Over the last few months we have received various enquiries from the Teesside area for victims of historic child sex abuse.
Having been heavily involved in representing victims of the Rochdale abuse scandal I have seen worrying similarities in the cases that we have received from Teesside. The children involved are vulnerable. They are befriended, groomed and given alcohol and drugs. They are then sexually exploited.
The local Teesside press have recently run an interesting story which confirms Cleveland Police’s attempts to target the problem.
Operation Fibre, Operation Grenadier, Operation Destiny and Operation Staysafe are all initiatives in recent years which have been started in the Teesside area to try and address the problem. From the information I have seen however this is a long standing issue and there may well be many victims out there going back decades who have suffered sexual abuse in the Teesside area. I suspect that over the coming months as some of the cases progress to Criminal Trials there will be a growing awareness that what happened in Rochdale, Oxford and Rotherham has also impacted on many other towns and cities across the UK including the Teesside area.
Middlesbrough Council is now to review the issue of sexual grooming of children in its care. This is something that many Councils should have been doing many years earlier as we find that a large proportion of the clients we act for were already vulnerable before the grooming commenced and were often in Local Authority care whilst being exploited.
The damages we will now seek on behalf of these victims will never compensate for what they have suffered during childhood. One of the difficulties in this area of work is seeing the long term impact sexual abuse can have on victims who are still unable to come to terms with what they have been through many decades after the abuse happened. It is to be hoped that the various Operations now instigated in the Cleveland area will tackle the problem and that those who are already victims will receive some closure from the prosecution of the offenders and successful damages claimed.