A GROUP of concerned parents and survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE) are set to meet decision-makers next week to discuss their national plan to eradicate the crime.
The Rotherham Steer Group, which includes victims, their families and survivors of both historic and current abuse, have created a strategy to tackle CSE, which they hope can be implemented by councils nationwide.
The group will meet the commissioner, Mary Ney, next Tuesday (27), to discuss plans which include calling on all taxis to have CCTV and tracking devices, takeaway workers trained in spotting signs of child sexual exploitation, and posters in schools.
Ney is one of five commissioners in Rotherham appointed by the government in February to tackle some of the serious failings across the authority.
She has already helped the group to implement taxi licensing laws in the town; these came into effect earlier this month. It follows highlighting the role of taxi drivers had in the grooming scandal, which was flagged up in the recent Alexis Jay and Louise Casey reports.
Around 1,400 sexually exploited girls were mentioned in a report released in August by Jay, who investigated grooming gangs in Rotherham. It found that hundreds of children had been victims of abuse in the town between 1997 and 2013.
They were lured with gifts and fast cars, then plied with drugs and drink by gangs of mainly Asian men who sexually abused the girls.
“We, as a steer group would like to see these proposals be put into place in order to reduce the likelihood of others experiencing the horrific crimes recently brought to light,” the group said. Other measures include asking all taxis to install shield glass separating the driver from passengers, takeaway delivery drivers and school teachers to have regular criminal checks and mandatory uniforms including name badges with photographs for all school staff, including drivers. The group said that by implementing the measures, child sexual exploitation can be reduced “to a minimum.”
“CSE is a nationwide problem that needs to be tackled robustly from all angles. This can only be achieved if we all unite.” Sexual abuse victim Jessica (not her real name), who is part of the group, spoke to Eastern Eye last year about her life being “destroyed” after suffering years of violent abuse by a married man.
Jessica was allegedly groomed by Arshid Hussain, now 39, when she was just 14. After escaping from the abuse, Jessica moved homes, cut off contact from her friends and kept in touch with her family only. “I finally feel comfortable talking about it now,” she previously told EE.
“But I think even after everything that’s come out, I still don’t think enough has been done,” she said.
“It’s not just a problem in Rotherham – it’s a problem all over the country.”
Brought together by Jayne Senior, CEO of Swinton Lock Activity Centre, the steer group claims they are “not professional experts in CSE” but “collectively, we have gained expertise from firsthand experience of CSE and the devastating effects it has on victims and extended family.”