Manchester

Three Girls: Petition demands recognition for Rochdale sex ring whistleblower

Sara Rowbotham
Image caption Sara Rowbotham's evidence was used to help convict a child sex abuse ring in Rochdale

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding a sexual health worker who exposed a child grooming ring is recognised for her actions.

Sara Rowbotham, who was played by Maxine Peak in the BBC drama Three Girls, collected evidence that helped convict nine abusers in Rochdale.

She was made redundant in 2014, two years after the men were jailed.

The online petition says Ms Rowbotham and her team should be "applauded" for their services to the town.

Three Girls tells to story of how girls as young as 13 were being abused by a group of Asian men, but police initially failed to pursue prosecutions.

Image caption Maxine Peake played the part of the sexual health worker in Three Girls

Greater Manchester Police later apologised and admitted there had been a "complete lack of understanding" of child exploitation in Rochdale and a failure to recognise the "scale of abuse".

Ms Rowbotham, who now works as a councillor on Rochdale Borough Council, said it had been a "frustrating" and "incredibly difficult" time.

"I spent a lot of time thinking it didn't really make very much sense," she said.

A statement on the petition said: "Sara and her team should be applauded by not only Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, but the government and Crown for her services for young people.

"Sara and her team should be the highest advocates for future national guidance surrounding the grooming of children."

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