Rotherham abuse scandal ‘even worse than first thought’

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Hundreds more children than previously thought may have been victims of Rotherham’s child sexual exploitation scandal, an expert has claimed.

Professor Alexis Jay’s report published in August said at least 1,400 children had been victims between 1997 and 2013.

But a Sky News investigation has now obtained information from the Risky Business community project in Rotherham which said it identified 1,700 victims between 1999 and 2011.

Risky Business was one of the few organisations praised in Professor Jay’s damning report, but it was largely ignored and even harassed.

The organisation’s former manager Jayne Senior said: “I was accused of saying too much, sharing too much information, reporting too much intelligence.

“Risky Business didn’t make all this up. It was accused of making it all up, and Alexis Jay exonerated all of that.”

Concerns have also been raised by Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, who said she believes the figures in the Jay report are an under-estimate.

She said: “The Jay report said 1,400, but I’m getting new victims coming to me on a weekly basis.

“So I would say it’s closer to a couple of thousand people who have been groomed or have been sexually exploited in this little town.”

One victim, identified as ‘Gemma’, said her abusers are still at large.

She said: “I’m still seeing my abusers, driving young girls in the car. They’re untouchable. Six months on we’ve had no arrests, no charges, evidence is still being lost. They’re just giving them - ‘do what you want’.”

Professor Jay herself said in November the true number of victims is likely to be ‘much higher’ than 1,400.