13 arrested after teenage girl 'sexually abused by over 40 adults while in care in Sheffield'
Thirteen people have been arrested and investigations are ongoing after a girl was allegedly sexually abused while in care in Sheffield.
According to national newspaper reports, the 16-year-old – who was taken into care because her mother was struggling to look after her – was ‘horrendously exploited’ during two stays at a Sheffield children’s home and abused by more than 40 adults.
The girl is now reportedly under suicide watch after being placed in a psychiatric unit.
Sheffield City Council said it could not comment on individual cases but insisted it ‘always acts’ with any case of child sexual exploitation.
The Star understands the girl’s case is known to the Children’s Commissioner for England, whose job is to protect the rights of youngsters.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “In this particular case, a co-ordinated investigation is still underway.
“As part of this, hundreds of documents have been compiled and reviewed, multiple witness accounts have been taken, a number of searches have taken place and a total of 13 people have been arrested.
“Enquiries are ongoing.
“In the meantime we are working with our partners to ensure the victim is continuing to get the support and specialist care she needs.”
The 13 people who were arrested have since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
The police spokesperson added: “The force takes all reports of exploitation extremely seriously and it is treated as a priority.
“Victims and survivors and their families can have confidence in us that we will listen to what they say, and that we will take action to bring offenders to justice.
“We know that not all victims want or can face prosecutions, so a lot of the work we do with partners is about removing the victim from harm, offering them the most appropriate support and preventing further offending.
“However, we are determined to bring those responsible for these horrendous crimes to justice and we will use every tool at our disposal to enable us to do so."
John Macilwraith, executive director for people services at Sheffield City Council, said: “We do everything we can to keep our young people safe.
“We take any concerns raised to us very seriously and will always listen.
“We cannot comment on individual cases but with any case of child sexual exploitation we always act.
“We use our professional judgement to make sure we are protecting and supporting that child in every way that we can.
“We have never ignored child sexual exploitation in Sheffield and have a dedicated, multi-agency child sexual exploitation service.
“We do everything we can to both prevent and tackle child sexual exploitation.
“As soon as any child sexual exploitation concerns are identified, we work with the police and other partners to provide support and care to protect young people from any further risks.”
Mr Macilwraith added: “Although we do everything we can, it is a horrible and sad fact that child sexual exploitation happens everywhere in the country.
“We are not however complacent and we will take every opportunity to learn about child sexual exploitation to help protect all our young people.
“We urge anyone to contact the police if they are concerned about a young person at risk of child sexual exploitation.”