Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham Council slams 'lack of funding' for abuse victims

Rotherham Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The council says the money would have provided support for victims going through the court process

The government has been criticised for not providing £6m in funding to help sex abuse victims in Rotherham.

Council leader Chris Read said the money would have paid for specialist staff to help victims of abuse during the court process.

He said with more prosecutions into child sexual exploitation (CSE) to come, it would be "shameful" not to provide special funding.

The Home Office said funding was already available to help victims.

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating CSE in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013, during which at least 1,400 children were targeted by gangs of men of predominantly Pakistani origin.

Rotherham Borough Council has been in government talks for two years about more funding to help those involved in the trials of their alleged abusers.

'Absolutely essential'

It said the money is needed to fund more independent sexual violence advocates to work with survivors, social workers, health workers and voluntary sector support staff.

Mr Read said the partnership between the council, police, NCA and health service partners, would continue to lobby the government for £6m in funding.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Council Leader Chris Read said the funding was "absolutely essential"

"It isn't an optional extra, it's absolutely essential," he said.

"We know from experience that the support given to victims and survivors around the criminal process is absolutely critical to their wellbeing - and to securing convictions.

"Now at the start of the biggest ever criminal investigation into child sexual exploitation in Britain... for the government not to make special funding available without delay now would be shameful."

Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam said extra funding would be provided to pay for social care of victims and survivors.

But he said there was no extra money to fund support throughout the court process.

"The scale of the tragedy in Rotherham is unprecedented and it is important that local services are able to adapt to provide appropriate support to the estimated 1,400 victims," he said.

"We are aware of significant investment by local partners in Rotherham to support victims and ministers are supportive of the efforts made by Rotherham MBC, South Yorkshire Police and partner agencies in the face of service pressures."

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