‘New era’ in fight against child sex exploitation in Rotherham

A new £3.1m fund has been launched to deliver an enhanced child sexual exploitation outreach service in Rotherham. 

The funding, provided by the KPMG Foundation, the DfE, the DCLG and Rotherham Borough Council over the next three years, will pay for an extra 15 specialist workers to help those children who have been sexually exploited to rebuild their lives. 

Children’s charity Barnardo’s, which has been working in Rotherham since September 2013 on this issue, will lead the work. 

The positive outreach service will proactively look for victims of child sexual exploitation and help the council and police prevent future crimes by acting as a source of community expertise. 

Since 2013, Barnardo’s has employed a team six specialist child sexual exploitation workers across South Yorkshire. The charity’s chief executive, Javed Kahn, said: “This partnership signals a new era as far as confronting child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. Barnardo’s is really proud to be a part of the team that will contribute to eradicating this horrific crime. 

“We must all be alert to spotting the signs that sexual exploitation may be taking place. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect those children who are most vulnerable from ruthless predators.” 

Last year a report by Professor Alexis Jay estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in the Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. 

Since then Rotherham has been under the spotlight with a raft of high profile resignations, including Shaun Wright, the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner who had been the councillor responsible for children's services at Rotherham Council from 2005 to 2010. 

PSE also reported earlier this year that two “current or former” Rotherham councillors are among those being investigated on suspicion of grooming and sexually exploiting girls as young as 12

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has been investigating child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) in Rotherham since the release of Prof Jay’s report. 

Communities secretary Greg Clark MP said that victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham have been appallingly let down. He said: “These new services, run by Barnardo’s, will help victims rebuild their lives and ensure they are supported as they seek justice through the courts against the perpetrators,” he said. “It will also work to ensure schools, families and the community are aware and vigilant to possible signs of sexual exploitation, so vulnerable people get the protection they deserve and have a right to expect.” 

Cllr Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Borough Council, added: “From what victims and survivors have told us, projects like this can make a real difference, reaching out to young people who might be at risk, building trust and supporting those who may become victims.” 

Children and families minister Edward Timpson MP said child sexual abuse is a truly abhorrent crime. “It is our moral duty to continue to support children and young people who have suffered from such pernicious abuse, so they can go on to live a fulfilling and healthy adult life,” he added. “The new money announced today will play a vital part in this, making sure the right support is available for victims as they start on the road to recovery.”  

(Image: c. Lynne Cameron PA Wire)


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