UK child abuse victims may number 2,000 or more

Victims of the Rotherham child abuse scandal may number as many as 2,000 - hundreds more than were identified in a damning report - the town's MP said today. 

The report by Professor Alexis Jay revealed how some 1,400 vulnerable girls had been subjected to rape, violence and trafficking by gangs of mainly Asian men in the town between 1997 and 2013.

But today, Labour MP Sarah Champion, who represents the South Yorkshire town, said she now thinks the figures in the Jay Report may be an underestimate. 

Ms Champion told a Sky News investigation that she has new victims coming to her on a 'weekly basis'. 

'I would say it's closer to a couple of thousand people who have been groomed or have been sexually exploited in this little town,' she said. 

Her claim was supported by the Risky Business community project in Rotherham, the investigation claimed, which said it identified 1,700 victims between 1999 and 2011.

Risky Business was one of the few organisations praised by the report, but it was largely ignored and even harassed. It was later shut down.

In her first interview, Risky Business's former manager Jayne Senior told Sky News: 'I was accused of saying too much, sharing too much information, reporting too much intelligence.

'Risky Business didn't make all this up. It was accused of making it all up, and Alexis Jay exonerated all of that, but we didn't just get up and think: "What shall we do today? Let's make up that..." 

The Jay report provoked shock and controversy when it was published last summer. 

It revealed the sexual exploitation of young girls and said police and council officials had betrayed the victims by not tackling the problems.

She said: 'I'm still seeing my abusers, driving young girls in the car.

'They're untouchable. Six months on we've had no arrests, no charges, evidence is still being lost. They're just giving them - 'do what you want'.'

Asked about what happened to Risky Business, Gemma said: 'I think it was shut down because they were trying to tackle the problem.' She said this amounted to a cover-up.

The controversy that followed the publication of the Jay Report led to a series of high-profile resignations including Rotherham council leader Roger Stone, council chief executive Martin Kimber and council director of children's services Joyce Thacker.

The most high profile resignation was that of South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children's services between 2005 and 2010.

South Yorkshire's chief constable David Crompton has also been under pressure to explain his force's attitude towards child sex exploitation over the last 15 years. 

The National Crime Agency has taken over the investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and is in the preliminary stage of its inquiry. 

The controversy that followed the publication of the Jay Report report in August 2014 led to a series of high-profile resignations.

Senior figures to quit included Labour council leader Roger Stone, council chief executive Martin Kimber and council director of children's services Joyce Thacker. 

The most high profile resignation was that of South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children's services between 2005 and 2010.

After the scandal broke, Mr Wright defied demands from political leaders of all parties to resign for weeks and refused to see why he should take any blame. 

He finally stepped down in September, claiming he was leaving ‘for the sake of the victims’.

It later emerged Mr Wright will not get a severance pay-off, but will keep his local authority pension, which he can claim from the age of 55.

Mr Wright had faced demands to quit since the report revealed that the authorities had repeatedly ignored warnings about the abuse of children in Rotherham over 16 years.

Meanwhile, shamed former Rotherham children's services boss Joyce Thacker received a £40,000 payoff after quitting her £130,000-a-year in September.

The details of the payoff, revealed after a Freedom of Information request last October, came as Mrs Thacker was singled out for criticism in a report published into the town's child sex abuse scandal.

The Home Affairs Select Committee report said she ignored 'numerous credible warnings' about the scale of abuse, and called for an independent investigation. 

There was widespread public outrage when council boss Martin Kimber received £26,000 to leave his job early in December.

Martin Kimber issue a ‘sincere apology to those who were let down’ when he resigned from Rotherham Council and promised he would not receive any ‘compensation’ for his decision to quit his £160,000 a year post.

Mr Kimber was originally intending to work his three months notice until the end of the year, but left his post on 31 October instead, to allow the new chief executive to get on with the job.

As a result the local authority paid him £26,666 - the salary he would have received had he worked the final two months. 

South Yorkshire's chief constable David Crompton has also been under pressure to explain his force's attitude towards child sex exploitation over the last 15 years. 

(source)

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