Rotherham Council ‘acknowledges failings’ after seven men found guilty of abusing girls in its care

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Rotherham Council says it has ‘acknowledged failings’ after seven men were found guilty of abusing girls in the council’s care in the early 2000s.

The trial of the men, at Sheffield Crown Court, was the result of a five-year investigation by officers from the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood.

After a nine-week trial at Sheffield Crown Court, seven men were found guilty of a series of offences on Wednesday (June 5). All seven were remanded in custody until sentencing, which is due to take place on September 12 and 13.

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The victims, who were aged between 11 and 16 at the time of the offences and were both in care, were groomed and often plied with alcohol or cannabis before being raped or assaulted.

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Top L R Saddiq, Amar, Siyab, Sadiq Bottom L R Bari, Yassin And Ajaibe

The investigation found they would often be collected by their abusers from the children’s homes where they lived at the time.

The court heard how the attacks took place at locations around Rotherham, in a park, in a car in a supermarket car park, in a cemetery, even behind a children’s nursery.

The guilty verdicts mean that 33 people have now been convicted of offences following investigations by the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood, which is looking at allegations of abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

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It remains the single largest investigation of its kind in the UK, with more than 1,150 potential victims identified.

Nicola Curley, strategic director for children and young people’s services at Rotherham Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the council has ‘acknowledged that the failings at the time in Rotherham in relation to child protection were unacceptable’.

Ms Curley added: “I would like to acknowledge the tremendous bravery and courage shown by the victims in coming forward to ensure that the convictions could be made.

“The children’s homes operated by the Council during the early 2000s were subsequently closed.

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“We have acknowledged that the failings at the time in Rotherham in relation to child protection were unacceptable.

"The council and partners continue to do all that we can to support victims of these horrific crimes.

“Our children’s services have been graded as ‘Good’ consistently by Ofsted since 2017. Dedicated professionals are working tirelessly to understand the experiences of our children and to disrupt offending. Ofsted found our multi-agency team responding to the threat of child sexual exploitation as ‘proactive’.

“In 2021, an independent review into our response to child sexual exploitation provided reassurance that council “processes are not simply paper-based but active, embedded and protecting children and young people in Rotherham.”

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“We will never be complacent about the threat from people who wish to sexually abuse children, and those people are still in our community, as they are in every community.

“Any victims of child sexual abuse are urged to come forward and report the crimes committed against them. There is support available and you are not alone.”

NCA Senior Investigating Officer Stuart Cobb said: “The evidence we heard from these victims was some of the most harrowing we have come across, and the offences involved some of the most serious yet investigated by officers working on Operation Stovewood.

“We are determined to do all we can to support and seek justice for victims like them.”