A report as far back as 12 years ago into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham could have brought abusers to justice, and prevented more children becoming victims – but it was deliberately suppressed.
Prof Alexis Jay’s inquiry found the researcher who wrote the report in 2002 was subjected to ‘personalised hostility’ and stopped from completing the final part of her work. The report had contained ‘severe criticisms’ of how agencies in Rotherham were dealing with the issue, and presented a ‘clear picture’ of girls in the town being abused.
The researcher had raised concerns with police about a young girl who had been repeatedly raped. When the girl went to the police, she was sent a text by the main perpetrator threatening her 11-year-old sister – leading the girl to drop her complaint.
When the researcher raised the matter with the police in a letter, the inquiry said she was ‘instructed never to do such a thing again’ and ‘the content of her letter was not discussed’.
The council then suspended the researcher on claims she had committed an ‘act of gross misconduct’ by including minutes of confidential meetings in her data.
She was reinstated in her job the following week, but had to work in a room on her own, forbidden access to the girls involved and not allowed to attend meetings.
Prof Jay said: “The content which senior officers objected to has been shown with hindsight to be largely accurate. Had this report been treated with the seriousness it merited at the time, by both the police and the council, the children involved then and later would have been better protected and abusers brought to justice.”