Victims of child sexual abuse in Rotherham are set to take South Yorkshire police to court to force them to hand over confidential records on how they handled decades of abuse in the town.
A Sheffield lawyer, acting for 65 victims, has said he has no other choice as the force is refusing to disclose data, call logs and other documentation that could establish if allegations that officers turned a blind eye to grooming in the town were true.
David Greenwood believes if he can prove this is so, the girls, now women in their 30s and 40s, will have a case under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act, which protects against torture but also “inhuman or degrading treatment”.And if they get a big payout as a result, will it come out of the personal pockets of those deemed responsible?
No. It’ll come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
Greenwood said police were refusing to hand over the files on the grounds that if the victims saw the records, their witness accounts in potential future criminal trials could be contaminated. Initially he met with the same resistance from Rotherham metropolitan borough council, which the victims are also planning to sue over alleged negligence.And so will that!
His action comes as Prof Alexis Jay, the author of the devastating 2014 report into abuse in the town, said Rotherham authorities “disbelieved” the scale of criminality in the town.
Jay, who has been appointed a member of the panel in the Goddard inquiry into child sexual exploitation, said she was concerned that grooming had effectively gone underground because it was now perpetrated online.
“A worrying aspect of exploitation has been the more recent one of internet grooming, which was emerging latterly in Rotherham as it was elsewhere in the UK,” she said. She has called for better education about exploitation in schools.
“The young people I spoke to in Rotherham were scathing about the sex education they received, which didn’t cover a range of concerns they had about their sexuality, and had mainly focussed on preventing teenage pregnancy.”Well, yes. After all, the policy won’t have been changed from when that was the biggest threat. After all, to focus on anything else would have been ‘racist’.
One of the victims of the Rotherham gang being sentenced on Friday has also urged David Cameron to introduce education about age-appropriate relationships into schools.Can’t they just play them Abba’s ‘Does Your Mother Know?’…?