Another English city has been implicated in the growing child abuse scandal, as the nation’s ‘Second City’ has been accused by the author of a “ground-breaking” 1991 child sex grooming report of destroying all copies after she tried to reveal the extent of Asian taxi-drivers abusing young girls 23 years ago.
Dr. Jill Jesson, who was a lecturer at the local University of Aston at the time of the report, has told the Birmingham Mail she was chosen for the task of “quantifying” the problem of abuse of girls in City Council care homes in 1990. She said of the government-funded project: “I was employed to do the work because I think they thought I would be objective, I was told to reveal what I saw. I did – and some people didn’t like it”.
During the six month course of her research Dr. Jesson discovered a problem of Asian taxi drivers, some of whom had even been cautioned by police for pimping, who were using the girls. Upon presenting this evidence to the committee who had commissioned the report, they immediately demanded all reference to race be removed, effectively sanitising Dr. Jesson’s work.
Not satisfied, they accused the academic of using a “flawed” methodology and later ordered all copies of the full report to be destroyed, and so the truth was withheld from the public, until now.
The similarities between what she uncovered in the last century and the sudden flood of revelations in the north of England in places such as Rotherham, where 1,400 children were brutally abused over fifteen years did not evade Dr. Jesson. She said: “Every time a news item has come on about sexual grooming of young girls and girls in care, and the link, too, between private hire drivers, I have thought ‘I told them about that in 1991 but they didn’t want to acknowledge it’. I think the problem has got worse and worse over time”.
Telling of the investigation itself, and the roadblocks thrown in her way by uncooperative employees before she even reached report stage, Dr. Jesson said: “The girls were all aged between 13 and 17 and were all under the care of Birmingham City Council social services.
“I was not helped by the fact that social services had inadequate recording methods. That was a big problem and my report was also critical of the council’s policy around tackling the problem.
“I found 20 girls’ names, next to which either the word ‘prostitution’ or some concern about their sexual behaviour had been written. I interviewed police officers, officers in charge of the council’s children’s homes and social workers, and I interviewed five of the 20 young women”.
Dr. Jesson said of the 20 young girls who were known as actively being abused at the time of her report, 15 were white, and a further five were of “mixed race”, and she exposed the “link” to the “Asian taxi drivers” who abused them.
At the time of her report, the behaviour of the girls in question was euphemistically called “prostitution” and dismissed by police who’s attitude Dr. Jesson characterised as effectively saying “We can’t stop them”. Rejecting this, she said: “But what I found, looked at and reported was not prostitution as in girls working on the streets as prostitutes for money… The girls would go somewhere with a man in a car and there would be several men there, men who wanted to have sex”.
Birmingham City Council has refuted the claim, insisting the full report was released in 1995, but Dr. Jesson insists they only ever released the sanitised version.