Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Child sex abuse still happening in Rochdale claims health worker

Girls are still being abused in Rochdale despite nine men being convicted of running a child sex ring in the town, a health worker has said.

Sara Rowbotham, from the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team, is tasked with identifying young people vulnerable to child sex exploitation.

She told an inquiry that agencies had treated the victims "appallingly".

The team co-ordinator also told the Home Affairs Select Committee the abuse had started in 2004 and not 2007.
'Still sexual exploitation'
Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team identifies young people thought to be some of society's most vulnerable and helps with their sexual health.

"In Rochdale, there is still sexual exploitation," Ms Rowbotham said.

"We are attending strategy meetings where these concerns have been raised."

Children involved are about 14 or 15 years old, she said.

Sara Rowbotham
Speaking of the victims of the convicted men, Ms Rowbotham told the committee: "These vulnerable people did not have a voice and they were treated appallingly by protective agencies."

She said she had made 103 referrals of "incredibly vulnerable" cases to police and social services between 2005 and 2011 and there had been only nine convictions in May that she was aware of.

The ex-chief executive of Rochdale Council, which was criticised for staff "deficiencies" in a report by the town's safeguarding children board, told the hearing he knew nothing of the abuse until the men's arrests in 2010.

Roger Ellis told the committee as chief executive he had "felt a deep sense of responsibility" and was "embarrassed at the authority's failings", but not personally.

The council was criticised in the report for failing to help the victims,

"I don't feel any personal culpability based on the information that was available to me," he said.

Mr Ellis, who was chief executive for 12 years, said "clearly information was withheld" from him by staff.

"I did not know about these particular issues. I can't explain why I wasn't made aware [of] what was happening."

Mr Ellis left the authority in 2010. When asked if he received a pay-off, he told the committee he could not reveal the amount due to "confidentiality".

He agreed there should be a judicial inquiry into what had happened in Rochdale to find out "who had failed" the children.

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