Child grooming still a problem in Derby, say police

A year on from Derby's biggest child exploitation case, police have said many children in the city are still being targeted.

Eight men were convicted of systematically grooming and sexually abusing 26 teenage girls after an undercover police investigation, Operation Retriever.

Despite these convictions Derbyshire Police said they had dealt with several hundred cases of child exploitation in the last year.

Two victims, whose names have been changed, have warned children and parents of the dangers of child grooming.


Emma was picked out by a gang of on-street groomers when she was 12.

She was introduced to some older boys by friends at a local shopping centre.

"Because of the way they were introduced to us I trusted them. I didn't see that something bad could happen," she said.

But after 12 months of grooming something bad did happen.

"One night things just changed. It was me and my friend and two men and it was night time," she said.

"He grabbed me and pushed me forward and then next thing I knew he was on top of me and I'd got two men pinning me down and then a group of men stood watching and laughing.

"I didn't know that it was really wrong. It was made out that that was just how sex was," she said.

Things went from bad to worse for Emma and she was forced to sleep with more men than she can remember.

"It was as if I was entrapped in this gang, this circle, and breaking out wasn't an option," she said.

"Everything was threats. If I spoke when I wasn't spoken to there were punishments.

"My relationship with my parents completely broke down.

"They knew something was wrong but they thought I had turned into a teenager," she said.

'Trusted him'

Jake, from Derby, was groomed on the internet when he was 13.

"He said his name was Ben. I thought he was my friend. I trusted him. I'd spent months talking to him on mundane things," he said.

But after Jake got invited shopping in Birmingham with an overnight stop in a hotel his mother intervened and took him to a police station.

"I found out that he had been a convicted paedophile and had got out on a loophole," he said.

"You hear on the news about these paedophile rings. You never think it'll happen to you but you don't realise until it's happened.

"I don't think I'd have left that hotel room of my own free will. I would have been drugged, raped, beaten, possibly killed and dumped somewhere," he said.

Inside Out East Midlands will be broadcast on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on Monday.

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