Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham child sex abuse: Police drop troll case

A woman in a coat
Image caption Elizabeth, who was 14 when she was abused, is entitled to life-long anonymity after her abuser was eventually convicted

A woman targeted by a Twitter troll after being sexually abused in Rotherham has said police have let her down by dropping an investigation.

The woman had the legal right to anonymity but said her name and address had been posted on the internet.

A man was arrested but police confirmed the investigation had since been closed because of "insufficient evidence".

Victim's commissioner Dame Vera Baird said police had an obligation to protect witnesses following a trial.

The woman known as Elizabeth - not her real name - said she was "absolutely horrified" to see details of her identity posted on social media.

She said: "It was my worst nightmare come true, you try and hide your name, you try and hide who you are for your own safety."

Image caption Elizabeth said women who had been sexually abused in Rotherham deserved to be "treated fairly, with respect and to be protected" by police

Elizabeth said she contacted South Yorkshire Police, who told her "shut down your profile".

Her father said he had received death threats and felt South Yorkshire Police had let his family down.

"They're doing again to my family what they did 18 years ago," he said.

"When we were phoning them up and warning them what was going off, we were being ignored and that's exactly what they're doing now."

Image caption The National Crime Agency believes 1,510 teenagers were exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013

South Yorkshire Police confirmed it had received a report of malicious communications relating to social media in December 2018.

The force said officers had "remained in regular contact with the victim throughout the course of this investigation" in an attempt to identify those involved.

Forensic analysis was carried out on a computer and mobile phone with data obtained from social media companies.

A man, 34, was arrested on suspicion of harassment and fraud-related offences in March but was later released under investigation.

In a statement, South Yorkshire Police said it "takes all reports of crime extremely seriously and will always conduct a thorough investigation with the aim of bringing criminals to justice".

Image caption To date, 20 people have been convicted as part of Operation Stovewood, the investigation into allegations of abuse and exploitation in Rotherham

Dame Vera said police failing to protect women who had been sexually assaulted was a "very significant betrayal" that could make people "lose faith" in the justice system and discourage people from coming forward to report crimes.

"These people are firefighting, all of this stress, tension and fear when what ought to be happening is they're being supported to get over this, to be helped to cope and recover and to move forward positively into their lives," she said.

"This is bound to be 'retraumatising' them and arresting this process."

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