Leeds & West Yorkshire

Bradford victim says care home knew of grooming

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Media captionJane said the abuse started when she was 13 years old even though workers at the home knew she was at risk of grooming

A 21-year-old woman has told how she was sexually abused while in a Bradford care home over a period of six years.

Jane (not her real name) said she was 13 years old when the abuse started and staff knew she was at risk of grooming.

She said her abusers were men of Pakistani heritage and care home staff would see the older men arrive and tell her to "go out and see them".

Bradford Council said the woman's concerns were taken seriously and would be investigated.

West Yorkshire Police said it would also investigate the case.

An independent report last month found that at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, by gangs of men predominantly of Pakistani origin between 1997 and 2013.

Report author Professor Alexis Jay said that girls as young as 11 were raped by "large numbers of male perpetrators".

'Keep her safe'

Michael Jameson, Bradford Council's strategic director of children's services, said Jane was taken into care in 2008 and had been living in a children's home, not a secure unit.

He said: "The doors could not be locked and staff would not have been allowed to physically prevent her from leaving. But they did try to keep her safe and encourage her to stay in.

"She was always reported missing if she didn't come back on time. Staff were gathering information about potential groomers, names and car registration plates."

Mr Jameson denied Jane was encouraged to spend time with men or escape from the home.

"In fact, quite the opposite," he said.

Jane said of her abusers "they'd give you as much drugs and drink as they could, and you wouldn't know what you were doing, and then do stuff with you without you even realising."

Image caption Notes seen by the BBC record concerns of grooming

'Getting into cars'

A note in her care records written in June 2008, when Jane was about 14, and seen by the BBC, said: "Concern that Jane is at risk of sexual exploitation as she is staying out all night getting into cars."

On 6 June 2008 another note records "meeting held re concerns. Information shared that Jane and [another girl] are being groomed".

Later that month, records state: "CSE [child sexual exploitation] strategy meeting held to discuss concerns re sexual exploitation".

Jane said: "How can they know someone is abusing children and just have a meeting about it and that's all?"

She also said one of her children was taken from her "because of her lifestyle".

Jane said: "Instead of them trying to help me get away from it [the abuse], they took my child and left me to deal with it all."

Geoff Dodd, West Yorkshire's Assistant Chief Constable, said: "We are aware of the concerns raised by the victim and will be speaking with her, so that we can fully investigate this matter."

He said the force had been "slow to acknowledge such crimes in the past".

"I want to reassure any victim who comes forward today and reports the crime to a West Yorkshire Police officer, they will be believed and we will take positive action," he added.

Mr Jameson said agencies now shared intelligence about potential groomers on a daily basis "to better respond to men who target young people in care" and this was "an improvement on what was in place in 2008".

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