Rotherham child sex abuse reports branded 'waste of time and money'

Sammy Woodhouse
Sammy Woodhouse

A survivor of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has branded six reports into the scandal as a 'waste of time and a waste of money'.

Sammy Woodhouse, who has waived her right to anonymity, spoke out after six reviews into various aspects of the scandal were published without anyone being held to account.

The reports were commissioned by Rotherham Council at a cost of £440,000.

They were reports were ordered in the wake of the 2014 Jay Report, which laid bare how more than 1,400 children were raped, trafficked and sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013 by gangs of men of largely Pakistani heritage without action being taken.

The author of one of the new reviews described Rotherham Council's failings as 'more cock-up than conspiracy'.

Speaking outside a heated meeting at Rotherham town hall, Ms Woodhouse said: "I want people held accountable and it just feels like it's never going to happen."

"I think it's been a waste of time and a waste of money. I've been told it's cost over £400,000.

"We could have done a lot more with that money. We've got the same answers over and over again like we did in all the other reports. I feel they've just looked at the Jay Report and rewritten it all again."

Ms Woodhouse said she was angry that former council leader Roger Stone and Shaun Wright - the former councillor in charge of children's services who resigned as South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner in the wake of the scandal - were among a series of former officers who refused to co-operate with the authors of the reports.

She said: "They're getting on with their lives now and we're picking up the pieces."

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said the publication of the reports was a 'completely wasted opportunity' after the reviews concluded that neither senior managers nor individual social workers could be disciplined.

"How are the survivors meant to rebuild their lives without the closure these reports could have brought?" she asked.

"How is Rotherham meant to have confidence that this will never happen again unless we know exactly what went wrong?

"This feels like a completely wasted opportunity to allow the town to move forward."

The former shadow women and equalities secretary was forced to quit her frontbench role last month after a backlash for saying 'Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls'.

Lawyer Mark Greenburgh, author of one of the reports, said 'there's simply little or anything that Rotherham Council can do' to take action against former senior staff.

Another report, which looked in detail at the cases of 15 individual exploited children, concluded that in all but one 'no examples of individual casework so poor or dangerous that disciplinary action against individual practitioners would be warranted' could be found.

In that report, independent consultant Jean Imray said: "I believe the practice I have reviewed is indicative of widespread systemic failure rather than anything for which individual practitioners can be held to account."

Whistleblower Jayne Senior said: "For some of the victims and survivors and families in Rotherham, they've waited 15, 20 years to get some answers to what went wrong and why they were failed.

"More importantly, who failed them and who were responsible for that. One of the more shocking things for me today is that nobody's going to be held accountable."

Ms Senior called for the reports to be handed over to criminal investigators to assess.

The failure to single out any individuals for criminal charges in the reports was criticised by Chris Read, the leader of Rotherham Council.

"I am as frustrated as anyone is that the reports today don't manage to pin culpability, or criminal culpability, on any current or former members of staff," he said.

"Of course, it is incredibly frustrating to see no-one who was here at that time held responsible in any way."

He said it was a 'disgrace' that some people refused to be interviewed by the authors of the reports.

Mr Read added: "I hope they can live with their consciences.

"These reports today were commissioned by the council, they do depend on volunteers to come forward to take part in them and we can't compel people to do so."

He added: "I am confident that the council today is a very different place to where it was four years ago - there are new people in place and they have been under enormous scrutiny."