Whistleblowers claim abuse survivors have been 'retraumatised' by time it has taken for report to be published

Two key figures in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal say some abuse survivors have been ‘retraumatised’ by the length of time it has taken for a report from the police watchdog to be published.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 2:33 pm

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) published their long-awaited report into South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) handling of allegations of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 on Wednesday, June 22, and concluded the force made ‘significant’ and ‘systemic’ failures.

The IOPC’s investigation was launched in 2014, and followed the explosive report from Professor Alexis Jay which concluded that failures by police and politicians contributed to the sexual exploitation of around 1,400 children in Rotherham by groups of men in the town, predominately of Pakistani-heritage.

Youth worker Jayne Senior MBE was a whistleblower who helped to lift the lid the horrific sexual abuse that children in Rotherham were subjected to during that period.

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Youth worker Jayne Senior MBE was a whistleblower who helped to lift the lid the horrific sexual abuse that children in Rotherham were subjected to during that period.

Following the publication of the report, which cost £6million and took eight years to produce, Ms Senior has released a joint statement with Dr Angie Heal, who was previously employed by SYP as a Strategic Drugs Analyst and wrote a report warning of CSE in the town in 2003 – but no action was taken at the time.

“Since The Jay report was published in 2014, some survivors have come forward for the first time to report abuse. They have gone through lengthy and challenging police investigations; they have experienced the trauma of giving evidence in court against their abusers; they have seen their perpetrators convicted; they have served their sentences, and some are now being released.

“All this has happened in the time it has taken the IOPC to investigate and publish their reports. Whilst we very much support the need to be thorough, the amount of time this has taken does seem excessive,” they said.

The statement continues: “Due to the length of time the IOPC reports have taken, this has now retraumatised some of them. We are receiving calls this week from women who – having been told that the findings will be finally available - are now very distressed and feel unable to cope. It is another setback for them that could have been avoided.”

Ms Senior and Dr Heal have also outlined the devastating impact CSE continues to have on survivors.

They said: “Since 2014, some women have died, far too young. For many, their lives have been blighted by mental health problems, substance misuse, relationship and family breakdowns and unstable lives. Their parents, siblings and other family members have also suffered significantly, as a result of the abuse their child suffered and the aftermath.”

Speaking after the publication of the Operation Linden report, South Yorkshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber said: “We fully accept the findings of the IOPC report which closely reflects those highlighted by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014.”

He added: “We let victims of CSE down. We failed to recognise their vulnerability and failed to see them as victims, for that I am deeply sorry. They deserved better from us.

“We listened to the voices of those affected and learnt the lessons of the past. Those lessons have been embedded in everything we do.”

“We now have dedicated multi-agency teams in Rotherham working closely to share intelligence on suspects and to identify children who may be at risk. We use the collective powers and authorities of the agencies represented in the group to explore that intelligence and take action at the earliest opportunity, to prevent harm wherever possible.

“Where harm does occur, we work compassionately and with utmost professionalism to stop that harm, to seek justice and to ensure the girls are properly safeguarded,” DCC Forber continued.