Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police refuse to publish child abuse reports

Alexis Jay OBE

Alexis Jay OBE

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Rotherham Council has refused to publish two key reports which highlighted the town’s child sexual exploitation problems more than a decade ago.

The authority has turned down a Freedom of Information request to release reports written in 2003 and 2006 by strategic drugs analyst Dr Angie Heal relating to the links between organised crime and child abuse.

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The council says the reports, which were highlighted in Professor Alexis Jay’s inquiry, are being used by South Yorkshire Police as part of its investigations into child sexual exploitation and therefore cannot be made public for fear of damaging future criminal cases.

A council spokeswoman said the authority holds copies of both reports, but they are the intellectual property of South Yorkshire Police.

She said: “Due to the sensitive nature of this subject we have asked South Yorkshire Police for their views on disclosure to enable us to make an informed decision.

“We have been advised information within the reports will inform and form part of the ongoing investigations into child sexual exploitation, including the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation and any investigations into historic child sexual exploitation cases.”

The response said factors taken into consideration include the majority of information from the report coming from victims, voluntary agencies and workers from public authorities.

It said it is ‘highly likely’ many of those who contributed to the reports will be spoken to again, meaning publishing Dr Heal’s findings ‘would compromise the new ongoing investigations and enquiries’.

But the response said there is an intention from South Yorkshire Police to publish the reports at a yet-to-be-determined future date.

Professor Jay’s inquiry said the findings of Dr Heal’s reports – in addition to similar research funded by the Home Office in 2002 – were not acted on by police and council bosses.

She said Dr Heal’s two reports had presented a ‘vivid and alarming picture of the links between sexual exploitation, drugs, gangs and violent crime in Rotherham from 2002 to 2006’, with the findings ‘widely distributed to middle and senior managers in all key agencies’.

But she said the findings were not formally discussed by councillors or the Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board.

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