Exclusive: Police and council agree compensation running into six figures with Rotherham abuse scandal victims

Victims of the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal have received compensation pay-outs running into six-figure sums from South Yorkshire Police and the town's council, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

Friday, 11th August 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:21 pm
Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police have started paying compensation to victims of the town's child abuse scandal.

Lawyers acting on behalf of 75 women who were preyed on by gangs of predatory paedophiles as children in the town have confirmed that the first wave of payments have been agreed.

Switalskis Solicitors says several civil claims relating to the failures of the police and council to protect vulnerable girls have now been settled, with “significant awards” being made.

The settlements have been amalgamated offers on behalf of both Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police.

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The legal firm would not comment on the number or size of the awards made so far and the police and council have also not given specific details.

But The Yorkshire Post understands that the payouts made to date are a mixture of amounts ranging from five to six figures.

A total of five claims have been settled so far from the 58 received by the council and police.

Sammy Woodhouse, a Rotherham victim who has waived her anonymity after her abuser Arshid Hussain was jailed for 35 years, is one of those whose cases are yet to reach a settlement.

She welcomed the news some claims have now been finalised.

“This is good news, the claims have been dragging on for years and until they have been settled, we can’t have closure or move on. I’m very happy for the people that have settled.

“No amount of money will make up for what we have all been through but it will make things a little easier now for some.”

It is expected the overall cost will run into millions by the time all of the claims have been settled.

The settlements follows at least 1,400 girls in the town being the victims of child sexual exploitation, largely at the hands of Pakistani-heritage men, over a 16-year-period.

A damning inquiry by Professor Alexis Jay published in 2014 found police had treated many victims with “contempt”, with “the scale and seriousness of the problem underplayed by senior managers” in social care.

Subsequent criminal trials have resulted in 13 offenders being given combined sentences of 199 years, while the National Crime Agency is currently carrying out the largest-ever investigation into child sexual exploitation to happen in this country in the town.

That work, known as Operation Stovewood, has seen 26 men arrested and eight charged in relation to 24 offences so far.

The investigation currently has 73 designated suspects and is working with more than 200 alleged victims.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission are separately investigating complaints in relation to the abuse scandal against 30 former and current South Yorkshire Police officers where potential criminal and/or misconduct offences are alleged.

David Greenwood, head of the child abuse department at Switalskis Solicitors, said: “My team of lawyers has been working constructively with lawyers for Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police. In a small number of cases so far compensation has been paid.

“The hope is that settlements will be reached in all cases without the need for formal court proceedings. We continue to analyse the action or inaction of the council and police. I am unable to comment on the value of settlements without clients’ permission.

“Work on the Independent Police Complaints Commission and National Crime Agency investigations continues and we are still helping ladies affected in their contact with those investigations.”

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “Since 2014, South Yorkshire Police have received a number of claims and are working with the complainants and their legal representatives in respect of these.”

A spokesman for Rotherham Council said: “A number of claims relating to child sexual exploitation have been received and several of these have now been settled, alongside South Yorkshire Police.

"As the authority is still in the process of dealing with outstanding claims it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”