British police failed to stop hundreds of young girls being sexually abused by a network of Muslim men despite knowing it was happening due to fears over creating “racial tensions.”
A woman whose sexual exploitation as a child was ignored by police over fears of increasing racial tensions in Rotherham has said the force ‘aided and abetted’ the abuse of hundreds of children.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld six complaints against South Yorkshire Police by a woman abused as a child for several years, starting in 2003.
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DailyMail reports: According to a leaked report seen by PA and first reported by The Times, the watchdog said it was ‘very clear that you were sexually exploited by Asian men’ and found police were aware of suspects but ‘took insufficient action to prevent you from harm’.
The woman, who received the 13-page report on Wednesday after first making the complaints in 2014, said children were ‘sacrificed’ by the failings of the police.
She told the PA news agency: ‘I always thought that maybe the police didn’t understand what was happening until I got the report, and now I fully understand that they knew exactly what was going on.
‘How could they do this to hundreds and hundreds of children? How could they go home at night after doing a shift and go to sleep?
‘We were never seen as children abused, they didn’t care at all.’
She told PA her abuse began in her early teens when she was befriended by a woman, known to the police as being involved in child sexual exploitation, who introduced her to older Asian men to be groomed.
The woman’s mother complained that South Yorkshire Police ‘would not listen and left you in dangerous situations, letting people do what they wanted and they never questioned anybody about what was happening,’ the report said.
The IOPC upheld the complaint that the force was aware of suspects involved in her exploitation and failed to act, leaving her with people who were grooming the teenager.
The woman called for action to be taken against South Yorkshire Police, including potential criminal charges.
‘They’ve always been complicit in what happened, we’ve seen perpetrators get done, so why are they any different? They’ve aided and abetted abuse,’ she said.
In a second investigation included in the report, the woman’s father said an officer referred to grooming as ‘P*** shagging’ when he phoned the police to discuss his concerns about his daughter.
The officer, who was unable to be identified, was also found to have said ‘with it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to be coming out’ and commented that the abuse had happened for 30 years.
The woman told PA she was very upset when reading the report and said: ‘It doesn’t matter what colour a perp (perpetrator) is, they should all be treated the same.’
The investigation also found the force tried to recruit the woman as an informant while she was underage, and did not act appropriately when she was taken from emergency accommodation to Bristol, around 150 miles away, in order to be groomed.
South Yorkshire Police said it accepted the IOPC’s findings and ‘recognises the failings of its past’, adding that the unnamed chief inspector’s alleged comments were not tolerated.
However, the woman said she did not think South Yorkshire Police’s response had gone far enough, and said: ‘The only reason they’re sorry is because they’re sorry for getting caught.’
She added: ‘I want an apology to all the public in Rotherham because they’ve not only done a disservice to the victims and survivors and their families, they’ve done a disservice to all the communities as well.’
A force spokesman said: ‘It is unfortunate no individual officer has been identified by the IOPC as this is not something we tolerate in today’s force.
‘The themes within this report have been understood by South Yorkshire Police for some time, and the identified learning has already been embedded within our organisation.
‘We are not deterred from pursuing justice due to the characteristics of the offender. This is demonstrated in the many convictions we have secured in relation to CSE in recent years.’
The IOPC Operation Linden was launched in 2014 with the watchdog conducting 91 independent investigations into the allegations that senior officers failed in their statutory duty to protect children between 1999 and 2011.
PA understands that the full IOPC report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham could be published this year.