Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham child sex abuse: Barnardo's team gets £3m

Child sat on a sofa Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A team of specialists will work with victims of child sex abuse in South Yorkshire

A children's charity has received £3m to fund a team of specialists to tackle child sex abuse in Rotherham.

Barnardo's said it would hire 15 workers to help victims and those at risk of child sex exploitation (CSE).

It comes after the Jay report found 1,400 children in Rotherham were abused by gangs of men, mainly of Pakistani origin, between 1997 and 2013.

The three-year programme, funded by the government, Rotherham Council and the KPMG Foundation, will start in autumn.

It is to be thoroughly evaluated so "best practice" can be shared across the country, said Barnardo's.

Success is to be measured by the number of children who leave the service "well on the road to recovery" and every child who is not "groomed in the first place", it added.

The charity is working with the council to find a suitable building.

The 15 workers are to:

•Give support to young people to rebuild their lives via one-on-one counselling

•Look out for young people at risk in the community to help prevent future crimes

•Train social workers, police and others to spot the signs of sexual exploitation and work with schools on education programmes

•Be Barnardo's staff and accountable to the charity.

Source: Barnardo's

Council leader Chris Read said the scheme was an "innovative project".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Jay report found Rotherham Council had failed to tackle the abuse

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said it would help teach organisations working with children in the town how to spot the signs of CSE.

"A project like this will be a real avenue for people to get that support and we have got to work really hard to make sure we don't let the children of Rotherham down," he said.

"There are still children at risk in Rotherham, but there are in every part of the country. We think in terms of CSE we are only touching the tip of the iceberg at the moment."

'Collective failures'

Sarah Wilson, 23, was abused by a gang of men in Rotherham between the ages of 11 to 17. She has waived her right to anonymity to raise awareness of CSE and has written a book about her experiences.

"I don't think CSE will ever be clamped down on totally, but I think we can [get the numbers down]," she said.

"There are more than 1,400 [victims] because there are people that weren't involved with social services or the police, so it's a big thing to tackle.

"But hopefully this money will help."

Image copyright Lauren Potts
Image caption Sarah Wilson said more needed to be done to help victims of CSE

Alexis Jay's report found children as young as 11 from the town were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted and trafficked to other cities in England.

She said there here had been "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership in tackling the abuse and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritise the issue.

The council is currently being run by government appointed commissioners after a separate report found it was "not fit for purpose".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating complaints against 42 named South Yorkshire Police officers over their handling of CSE.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption South Yorkshire Police failed to prioritise the issue of CSE in Rotherham

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites