Rotherham child abusers 'brazen', says care home worker

The anonymous worker said he was threatened when he tried to confront the men picking up the girls

A former Rotherham care home worker has told the BBC how girls as young as 11 were "brazenly" groomed and abused in the South Yorkshire town.

The man, who worked at children's homes for four years, said girls would be picked up by taxis and abusers made "no attempts to disguise" their actions.

At least 1,400 children were sexually exploited, mainly by men of Pakistani heritage, between 1997 and 2013.

Those in charge of care services at the time have faced calls to resign.

They include Sonia Sharp, who ran Rotherham's children's services department from 2003 to 2008 and is now in charge of education services in the Australian state of Victoria.

Andrew Collins, an advocate for historical abuse survivors, said Ms Sharp should resign "immediately" from her current job because her position was now "inappropriate".

Sonia Sharp Sonia Sharp now runs education services in the Australian state of Victoria

A care worker, who worked at children's homes from 2003-2007, told the BBC men would arrive almost "every night" to collect girls, who escaped using a range of methods and were then usually driven off in taxis.

Start Quote

Everything we passed on, nothing seemed to go further in any way shape or form”

End Quote Rotherham children's home worker

The carer, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed staff were reluctant to intervene in some cases for fear of being classed as "racist".

"Sometimes, [the men] would phone and they would pick up around the corner, but sometimes they would just turn up and pick up at the children's home," the care worker said.

"It depended on how brazen they were or how much heat they thought was on at the time.

"They did genuinely think who was on shift, who would be likely to go outside the children's unit.

"I used to make a deliberate attempt to let them know that I had clocked their car, that I was taking their registration plate."

'Have you shot'

He said he confronted some of the men, despite warnings from his colleagues that some carried knives.

Shaun Wright PCC for South Yorkshire Shaun Wright has also resisted pressure to resign

"They would laugh it off with a good smirk," he said.

"They would sometimes say that they would have you stabbed or shot by one of their associates."

Police were called each time a girl went missing, but officers usually only arrived when the child got back to the home, sometimes "high on drugs" or "incredibly drunk", our source said.

"They led us very much on a merry dance and there wasn't much we could do apart from keep documenting,.

"And we documented every single night, and we spoke to social workers. The social workers were passing that on.

"Everything we passed on, nothing seemed to go further in any way shape or form."

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Key points
  • Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple attackers, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated
  • The inquiry team noted some council staff feared being labelled "racist" if they focused on victims' descriptions of the majority of abusers as "Asian" men
  • The "collective failures" of political, police and social care leadership were "blatant" over the first 12 years covered by the inquiry
  • Police were said to have given child sex exploitation no priority, regarding many child victims "with contempt" and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.
  • Ofsted is to carry out an early inspection of Rotherham's child protection and look-after-children's services as a result of the report
  • The Independent Police Complaints Commission has asked South Yorkshire Police to send it evidence of failures or misconduct
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'Struggling for love'

He said he eventually left the home over his frustrations he was failing the children in his care and said he was not surprised at recent revelations of widespread and long-running abuse in the town.

"These young people have already been sexually abused, in many cases," he said, but children who have been abused do not blame their attacker simply because they "are struggling for love".

"[But] you cannot provide love in a children's unit," he said.

"It's one thing that you can't provide, and as a corporate parent it's where we fail.

"And if [the abusers] are providing that, plus drugs, and alcohol and freedoms, or perceived freedoms, then we're never going to be able to keep them safe."

Meanwhile South Yorkshire Police continues to face criticism and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has told the force it should be informed of all "evidence of failures" in the way it acted.

Rotherham abuse

1,400

children were abused, 1997-2013

  • + 30% of victims were already known to social services

  • 157 reports concerning child sexual exploitation made to police in 2013

  • 9 prosecutions were made

Getty

On Thursday Tracey Cheetham, deputy police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, resigned and backed calls for her boss Shaun Wright to step down.

Mr Wright resigned from the Labour Party on Thursday but has refused to quit from his position as police and crime commissioner (PCC), despite also being urged to by Nick Clegg and Labour.

Earlier this week Sonia Sharp apologised for failures in Rotherham and was backed by her boss at Victoria's department of education, Richard Bolt, who said: "I have no doubt that Sonia tackled the issue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham with maximum commitment, professionalism and focus."

Ms Sharp gave evidence to Professor Alexis Jay's report, which was published on Tuesday and heavily criticised senior officials at Rotherham Council.

Prof Jay's report revealed children in Rotherham suffered abuse included beatings, rape and trafficking to various towns and cities in England.

Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, has written to the chief executive of East Riding of Yorkshire Council asking what steps it is taking to investigate another former Rotherham care boss.

Pam Allen served as director of safeguarding at Rotherham Council from 2004 until 2009, and now holds a similar position at East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Mark Rogers, the president of the society of local authority chief executives, said Rotherham council had acted correctly in notifying places where former Rotherham staff had moved.

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