Child sex abuse survivors from Rotherham nominated a multi-agency team for a national award for supporting them through their court cases.
Sammy Woodhouse and Emma Jackson put forward a multi-agency team, made up of organisations including Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Police and Victim Support, for a Partnership Award at the first national ‘Celebrating Services for Witnesses’ awards ceremony, held by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.
The team, which supported child sexual exploitation survivors as they gave evidence in two trials as part of Operation Clover, scooped second place in the awards.
Operation Clover led to the convictions of 15 people, who were landed with jail sentences totalling more than 200 years.
Among those were four brothers - Arshid, Basharat, Bannaras and Sageer Hussain - who for raped, tortured and prostituted young girls in Rotherham.
Operation Clover was launched following the publication of report by Professor Alexis Jay in August 2013, which revealed that 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham over a 16-year period while those in authorities failed to act.
Sammy, aged 31, waived her right to anonymity after giving evidence against Arshid Hussain, who was jailed for 35 years for offences including rape.
She said: “I nominated the Operation Clover team in three different categories. They helped me and so many others to get justice and for that I can never thank them enough. I am so pleased they have been recognised nationally like this for the absolutely excellent work they did to support me and other survivors through all of the trials.
“Without them we may not have had the confidence to stand up and speak out about how we had suffered. By having the confidence to do this we were able to finally secure convictions against the vile and evil perpetrators who had made out lives a living hell for so many years."
Fellow survivor, Emma, who was abused by nine men, added: "In 2003 I was sexually exploited in Rotherham and I never thought I would get justice. But at court the Clover team went above and beyond to make sure I was as confident and as comfortable as I could possibly be.
“I will never be able to thank them enough for giving me the chance to be heard and most importantly believed.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate, who ran Operation Clover, said: “It is because of the victims’ support and confidence in our team that we were able to secure such significant convictions, and to now receive national recognition for our victim engagement partnership is something everyone involved should be incredibly proud of."
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: “Getting nominated like this is something we are really proud of. We are determined to make sure all victims and survivors have access to good services which is why as a council we have commissioned a number of great services to deliver this for us here in Rotherham.”