More than 1,500 people may have been abused by grooming gangs in Rotherham, according to officials leading the biggest investigation of its kind in the UK.
Around 100 more potential victims have been discovered in the wake of Alexis Jay’s damning report on how authorities had ignored sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town for more than a decade.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is investigating grooming activity between 1997 and 2013, said some had come forward themselves and others had been identified by other survivors or through analysis of a local youth project and social care files.
Paul Williamson, the head of investigations for Operation Stovewood, said momentum was increasing.
“Our endeavours are bringing benefits to victims, not just with justice long overdue but in terms of the support they are given to proceed through the criminal justice process and assist them in building a better life,” he told The Independent.
“We want to make Rotherham a hostile environment for anyone committing child sexual exploitation and anyone thinking of doing that in the future.”
Only four men have so far been convicted but six further trials are due to start later this year and 34 investigations are ongoing.
Out of 1,510 potential victims identified, at least 1,300 are female. Investigators have interviewed 260 survivors to identify 110 suspects, with 38 arrested, 18 charged and two cautioned.
The NCA believes the investigation will take several years to complete as evidence gathering has been completed for less than a fifth of victims and “there’s a lot of work left to be done”.
Mr Williamson is hoping to increase his team – which currently has a £6.9m annual budget – from 144 officers to up to 250.
The police and government have failed the citizens of Rotherdam. Then, they covered up their incompetence and submission to Islam.
It’s not just Rotherdam either, it’s all across the UK: More than 1,400 children were victims of Pakistani Muslim rape gangs…in one town
The growing number of towns where sex gangs prey on children
After a gang of 17 men and one woman was convicted over the sexual abuse of young girls, Newcastle joins a growing list of English towns and cities where sex rings have been exposed. Others include:
Rotherham – The issue of child abuse in the town first came to light in 2010 when five Asian men were jailed for sexual offences against under-age girls.
A 2014 inquiry found there were more than 1,400 victims of grooming and sex exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
Rochdale – The trial of nine Asian men for grooming young white girls for sex attracted widespread public outrage and sparked a national debate when they were convicted in 2012.
The gang received jail sentences of between four and 19 years for offences committed against five girls – aged between 13 and 15 – in and around Rochdale between 2008 and 2010.
The case returned to the public consciousness earlier this year when the BBC broadcast its Three Girls drama based on the experiences of some of the victims.
Oxford – In 2013, five members of a sadistic paedophile ring were handed life sentences, while two others were each jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey.
The court heard how six girls, aged between 11 and 15, were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to perform sex acts.
All of the men were of Pakistani origin apart from two brothers, who were from north Africa.
Bristol – Some 13 Somali men were jailed for more than a total of more than 100 years after they were convicted in 2014 of running an inner city sex ring.
Victims as young as 13 were preyed upon, sexually abused and trafficked across Bristol to be passed around the men’s friends for money.
Aylesbury – Six Asian men were jailed in 2015 for grooming vulnerable under-age white girls between 2006 and 2012.
The Old Bailey heard victims would be plied with alcohol and forced to perform sex acts for as little as ‘the price of a McDonalds’.
Peterborough – A total of 10 men were convicted of child sex crimes in the town, including ‘predatory’ restaurant boss Mohammed Khubaib, who was originally from Pakistan.
He was jailed for 13 years at the Old Bailey in 2015, after he was found guilty of forcing a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act on him and nine counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation, involving girls aged from 12 to 15, between 2010 and 2013.
The media are also complicit.