Detailed information about suspected child abusers in Rotherham was passed to police more than a decade ago – but never acted on, a whistleblower has claimed.
Adele Gladman has gone public to describe how her evidence was ignored by Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police after providing them with information about suspected abusers.
She raised concerns about the way child sexual exploitation cases were dealt with as she worked on a Home Office-funded project in the town in the early 2000s.
She says she warned police and council bosses about suspects believed to be at the centre of much of the child-grooming activity going on in the town more than 14 years ago.
However, despite providing them with specific details about the men’s activities, methods and the names of dozens of victims, she says her warnings were not acted on and the men are still at large and have never been charged in relation to child grooming.
“I thought I had left them enough and they had to do something,” she says. “There was so much evidence.”
After sending case studies about victims from the town to Home Office evaluators in April 2002, Ms Gladman had her office raided and all of her files stolen, had fake minutes of meetings that had never happened added to her computer, was banned from seeing abuse victims and Rotherham Council attempted to sack her for gross misconduct.
She also claims she was threatened by police officers on two separate occasions – saying she was told in one incident it would be ‘a shame’ if key abusers in the town were given her home address.
Ms Gladman, who now runs a child safeguarding training and consultancy business, said she has decided to break her anonymity in the wake of the recent Casey report.
The Casey report, by civil servant Louise Casey, found Rotherham Council remains ‘in denial’ about child abuse, despite last year’s revelations from Professor Alexis Jay that there were at least 1,400 victims in the town between 1997 and 2013.
Ms Gladman says she still has ‘no confidence whatsoever’ in the council and major improvements were still required by South Yorkshire Police.
The Jay report said senior officials in the council and police should have listened to Ms Gladman’s findings.
In her independent report into CSE in Rotherham, Prof Jay said police had treated victims with ‘contempt’, with the majority of abusers being of Pakistani heritage.
Talking about Ms Gladman’s evidence, Prof Jay wrote: “Had this report been treated with the seriousness it merited at the time by both the police and the council, the children involved then and later would have been better protected and abusers brought to justice.”
Ms Gladman had been a solicitor before joining a Home Office-funded project designed to tackle child abuse in Rotherham in the early 2000s.
The pilot, which was run in partnership with the charity Coalition for the Removal of Pimping, was being run with the support of Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.
Working with a council-funded project and other professionals involved with helping young people in Rotherham, a database of information about abusers, their methods and their victims was started – but police bosses dismissed the information as ‘unhelpful’.
Ms Gladman said she believes the detailed information, handed over in October 2001, could have been used to start building cases against suspected abusers.
Ms Gladman first revealed details of the allegations about her treatment by the police and council in September, when she spoke anonymously to MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Chief Constable David Crompton, of South Yorkshire Police, said at the time he would refer Ms Gladman’s claims about intimidation to the National Crime Agency.
Rotherham Council also confirmed in October it was conducting an internal investigation into what had happened to the missing files. The inquiry is still ongoing.
Ms Gladman only decided to go public about her experiences after the release of the Casey report last month.
She says its findings that Rotherham Council remains ‘in denial’ about grooming meant she felt she had a duty to speak out.
She says there were many reasons why child sexual exploitation was not dealt with properly.
She says: “A big part was they didn’t see the young girls as victims. The evidence wasn’t dropping in their laps. You don’t report things easily as a victim of child sexual exploitation – the evidence is a little bit harder to find.
“Part of it will be that it was not a priority crime, part of it was about the image of Rotherham, but there has to be something else we don’t yet know about that stopped them from acting.”
Ms Gladman spoke out ahead of former council leader Roger Stone giving evidence to MPs this afternoon.
Mr Stone resigned on the day the Jay report was published and is set to speak in public this week for the first since his resignation.
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