South Yorkshire police chiefs back calls for new law for grooming victims

Sammy Woodhouse
Sammy Woodhouse

Police chiefs in South Yorkshire are backing calls for a new law for grooming victims which would see their criminal records wiped clean for offences committed under the control of their abusers.

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings and Chief Constable Stephen Watson have written to Sammy Woodhouse to pledge their support for her campaign for 'Sammy's Law'.

Sammy, who has waived her right to lifelong anonymity to campaign against child sexual exploitation, was raped after meeting her attacker - the ringleader of a grooming gang - when she was 14.

Now 32, Sammy, who gave birth to her attacker's baby, was instrumental in helping to secure the conviction of Arshid Hussain, who was jailed for 35 years along with his two brothers and uncle, for a string of sex offences including rape.

They were part of a gang which groomed, raped, sexually assaulted and prostituted 15 teenage girls.

The prosecution came after a report published by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014 found that 1,400 vulnerable children in Rotherham were abused by men of largely Pakistani heritage between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority failed to act.

In their letter to Sammy, Dr Billings and Chf Con Watson said: "We would both like to commend you for the dedication and commitment you continue to display by sharing and reliving your own personal experience in order to raise awareness for others.

"It goes without saying that you have been through a harrowing experience which has had a huge impact on your life in many ways. We believe that the concept of 'Sammy's Law' would provide vital reassurance to victims and survivors that the abuse they suffered in the past will not continue to impact their future."

Dr Billings said: “The lives of these victims and survivors have already been damaged in such horrific ways. Many of them will have made decisions and not acted within the law, during the time that they were being groomed and abused as vulnerable teenagers.

“I commend Samantha for her bravery, in not only waving her anonymity, but also using her experiences as a platform to help others. Those affected want to put their ordeal behind them and move on with their lives. Unfortunately criminal records mean this is not easy for them.”