The whistleblower who exposed the Rotherham child abuse scandal has told Sky News that the issue of gang-related child exploitation has been “forgotten” by the government and “victims are being let down.”
It comes as 20 MPs from areas where there have been high-profile cases of sexual grooming have written to the home secretary calling for more action to tackle the problem.
Jayne Senior was the social worker who in 2011 helped uncover industrial scale child sexual grooming in Rotherham by gangs of mostly Asian men. She says promises the government made to resource the police and provide care for victims have not been kept.
Mrs Senior told Sky News: “I think Rotherham has been forgotten.
“When I went to see David Cameron in 2015, I naively believed that this issue would be resourced. That the victims would be given an opportunity to not only come forward but also to receive support around therapy and counselling.
“But that hasn’t happened.”
A cross-party group of MPs has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid calling for more action.
Signed by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs from areas where there has been organised child abuse, the letter states: “Cases of gang related child sexual exploitation, such as those in Rotherham, Telford and in Newcastle conform to a precise model of recruitment, manipulation and exploitation.
“Despite these commonalities, we are not aware of any research being undertaken to understand the drivers for this kind of crime.
“We believe the Government should commission research covering the specifics of gang grooming including the national networks in which this crime exists.”
The MPs also want the home secretary to confirm that child grooming is still being treated as a national threat, as promised by David Cameron. The top two signatories are Sarah Champion Labour MP for Rotherham and Lucy Allen, Conservative MP for Telford.
Ms Champion told Sky News: “The government are failing on their promises, they’ve been telling me personally for over three years now that they’re going to prevent this crime, that they’re going to properly resource the police, that they’re going to resource social services but that just hasn’t translated into action.”
Responding to the letter, a Home Office spokesperson said: “This Government is working to tackle child sexual exploitation, declaring it a national threat and making significant investment to protect children, support victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
“All victims and survivors of child sexual abuse should be confident that they will get the support that they need.”
Mrs Senior clearly thinks this isn’t happening. She said: “I thought we’d have a blank piece of paper and we’d be able to look at education, policing, law and social services, but that’s not happened.
“Here we are four years on still reliant on small charities to offer what I believe should be a mandatory service. This is not just a six-month quick fix.”
Sky News also spoke to “Elizabeth” who was groomed, trafficked and abused in Rotherham from the age of 14. She went to court, the perpetrators were convicted, but she says there’s been little support for her and other victims.She told Sky News: “We’ve organised car boot sales and sponsored walks to raise money so we can get counselling. I’m on an 18-month waiting list to get help.
“This is what’s always happens in Rotherham. We’re always put second.”