UK Government Office Knew About Mass Rape Gangs Decade Before Investigating

government
South Yorkshire Police

Britain’s Home Office had received information about Pakistani grooming gangs raping vulnerable white girls more than a decade before it finally commissioned an investigation, a review has found.

A review had found that documents relating to an unpublished report which detailed “men who are believed to be responsible for pimping and grooming young people into prostitution” in Rotherham, north east England, was sent to the Home Office in 2002, but the department failed to act on it.

The revelations were reported in the Home Office’s internal review entitled: “The Rotherham Independent Review: a review into information passed to the Home Office in connection with allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in Rotherham” released Tuesday and which considered whether the Home Office properly handed material sent to it regarding Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

This included an assessment of a University of Luton (now Bedfordshire) research project titled “Risky Business” which ran from 2001 and 2002 and was funded by the Home Office. It was set up to identify and support girls at risk of CSE and focused on “targetting men who are believed to be responsible for pimping and grooming young people into prostitution”.

The July 2018 internal Home Office review stated that the researcher had said she sent her draft report to “Home Office evaluators and senior officials” in 2002 and that she had spoken to several officials about her work. However, the internal review found that some Home Office staff claimed to have no recollection of having received it, with “one inclined to the view that it might have been received and one felt it less likely”.

No copy of the 2002 draft report had been found in the Home Office archives, but reviewers state that enough information related to its work can be determined to have been seen by the Home Office.

Blamed a filing system that was “imperfectly operated” for the potential loss of the document, review heads barrister Richard Whittam QC and NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said they found no evidence of files deliberately being destroyed.

The July 2018 investigation into what evidence of grooming gangs was sent to the government was prompted by documents uncovered in the Home Office archives relating to the 2002 study during the Jay review into the sexual exploitation of some 1,500 white girls by Pakistani-heritage Muslim men in Rotherham between 1997 and 2003. The Jay Report, published 2014, was only prompted after an investigation into the sexual abuse by The Times newspaper.

Some of the information the researcher said she sent to the Home Office in the draft report was a case study of the mother of a 14-year-old girl being groomed for sex by “[South] Asian” men but whose pleas for help were ignored by police  — similar to other cases presented to the Home Office by the Jay Report 12 years later.

Other material in the Home Office archives included a letter from concerned parents “known to have been received by the department in 2003 describing the appalling abuse of one child and indicated that criminal networks were involved in the organised exploitation of young people”.

The University of Luton researcher said she had contacted the Home Office over concerns of malpractice by authorities in Rotherham in the handling of girls being sexually abused by Muslim grooming gangs, with the July 2018 report confirming that Home Office authorities were aware of these “tensions”.

“However, the Home Office focus seems specifically to have been on the consequence of such disputes for the advancement of evidence that would support a commissioned evaluation, rather than the cause of such disputes. Closer consideration of the latter could have uncovered faster the failings we now know were putting children at risk,” the 2018 report found.

Conservative Home Secretary Sajid Javid said of the findings: “The review did find that pieces of information questioning the response of statutory services were available to the Home Office, meaning that opportunities to follow up on, or seek further information about, matters in Rotherham including whether the police and other statutory agencies were responding appropriately existed.”

Rotherham Labour MP Sarah Champion said: “It is clear that the Home Office knew about child sexual exploitation in Rotherham from 2002.

“The report also highlights the knowledge of the local authority and South Yorkshire Police of the abuse.

“Why, when so many in authority knew the scale and severity of this crime did it take until 2014, with the publication of the Jay report, for a large scale investigation to occur?

“How many lives could have been protected if swift action had been taken a decade before?”

Last year, Rochdale grooming gang whistleblower and former Greater Manchester Police detective Maggie Oliver alleged the Home Office were more interested in covering up their mistakes than protecting vulnerable girls and that the conspiracy “goes right to the top of government. I know that the Home Office was getting daily updates about Operation Span [an investigation into CSE]. They are more interested in covering up for mistakes instead of holding their hands up.”

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