Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham child sex abuse: Police 'ripped up files'

Carol talking to BBC reporter Toby Foster
Image caption Abuse victim Carol told BBC reporter Toby Foster her paperwork detailing her ordeal was ripped up by a police officer

Police in Rotherham tore up paperwork relating to one child sex abuse victim and stopped another from being medically examined, the BBC has been told.

One woman claimed a policeman called her a liar after she reported being abused aged 15, and the other alleges police prevented her being examined after she was abused aged 13.

Both were speaking to BBC Inside Out.

South Yorkshire Police said both cases were now with the police watchdog.

A report in September by Prof Alexis Jay found 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 by men of mainly Pakistani heritage.

The abuse they suffered included beatings, rape and trafficking to various towns and cities in England.

Two women told BBC Inside Out Yorkshire that police not only ignored, but actively obstructed investigations into their abuse.

The two cases happened eight years apart. The women, given the pseudonyms Jenny and Carol, are part of a group of 32 preparing to sue South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council.

Their cases span nearly two decades from the 1990s until 2007.

Carol was living in a children's home in the 1990s when she was taken on occasions by taxi to an Asian restaurant in the town.

'Called a liar'

In one incident she was subjected to a violent sexual assault by one of her abusers and was left bleeding.

Carol said: "I told the staff at the children's home and my social worker and they said a police officer was going to to pick me up and take me to a unit.

"The officer that used to come to the children's home [regularly], he came and picked me up in a police car.

"He took me to a lay-by; kept calling me a liar, saying he'd read my files and that I was a liar and no-one was going to believe me, it was more trouble than it was worth and he ripped my paperwork up.

"He dropped me back at an Indian restaurant... back with my abuser."

Image caption Two girls said the police officers they dealt with in Rotherham tried to prevent them seeking justice

Lawyer David Greenwood, who is acting for the women in these historical cases, said: "The evidence that I've seen and the girls that I've spoken to, tell stories that suggest to me that there's something going on at a systematic level, where the police [were] actively preventing cases going forward against these perpetrators."

Jenny's mother, Julie, recalled how in 2007 her 13-year-old daughter was in regular contact with the police, but came home one Saturday night "blind drunk".

In the morning, Julie questioned her daughter who had vague recollections of spending the evening with a much older man. Her mother collected up her clothing, which had evidence of sexual activity, and called the police.

Julie said: "They sent two police officers out and they said they would take us to a rape centre - there wasn't one in Rotherham - to either Sheffield or Doncaster so they started taking us to Doncaster.

"On the way to Doncaster, the police got a call on the radio and said they were returning to Rotherham General Hospital."

'Spoil his Sunday'

She added that two CID officers came to take a statement.

"They were trying to dissuade her from making this statement by saying that the police surgeon was coming down the motorway to examine her and it was going to spoil his Sunday afternoon with his family - did she still want to go through with this statement?

"They kept going on and on at her till she said 'No, I don't want to do it anymore' so the two police officers took us home and stopped at the door and said sorry.

"I had the items of clothing with me. I put them in the washing machine."

Julie said her daughter got a shower but the hospital called asking where she was and she explained the child did not want to be dealt with by the police surgeon.

"She said 'I don't know what you're talking about 'cos there's no police officer coming down the motorway - our own doctor was going to examine her.'"

Image caption Carol says she had the paperwork relating to her attack ripped up by an officer in a police car

In a statement South Yorkshire Police said: "Our staff are now better informed than ever and we are absolutely committed to achieving justice, stopping the harm and preventing future offending.

"All frontline officers and specialist staff have now been trained in relation to child sexual exploitation and spotting the signs.

"Chief Constable David Crompton has asked the National Crime Agency (NCA) to lead an independent investigation into matters relating to the Alexis Jay report and this will be led by Trevor Pearce, NCA director of investigations."

The statement said the terms of reference for the investigation were being finalised.

"South Yorkshire Police has referred 14 people to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and may make further referrals should the criteria be met," it continued.

"All allegations will be investigated and where there is evidence of any misconduct referrals will be made to the IPCC."

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on Monday, 10 November and nationwide on the iPlayer for 30 days thereafter.

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