Huddersfield can now be added to the list of so many towns where young vulnerable girls have been exploited by gangs of predatory males.
Having acted for girls and boys who have been abused in Rochdale, Oxford, Rotherham, Keighley, Blackpool, Burnley and many other towns, I find the Huddersfield revelations are depressingly similar.
The girls again seem to be vulnerable girls in their early teens or younger. Their compliance has been obtained by a mixture of drugs and alcohol and threats of violence. I am sad to say that I have represented many similar victims who have been exploited because of their vulnerability.
These girls will have been damaged for life. Make no mistake, this type of abuse will, in most cases, lead to permanent psychiatric injury. Abuse of this type is as life changing as being involved in a serious road traffic accident.
What I find particularly disappointing in the Huddersfield case are the comments of the Director of Children’s Services. I do have ongoing cases against Kirklees Council and would certainly question how well they dealt with issues of child sex abuse. Steve Walker stated:
“These cases took place a number of years ago at a time when, as far as we know from cases in other towns and cities, the issue of CSE was not well understood”.
I find this an appalling statement to make. How can Mr Walker suggest that CSE was not well understood and that this is some sort of an excuse for the failings of Kirklees Council Children’s Services Department? One of the exploited children is reported to have had the mental age of a 7 year old. To suggest that the issue of CSE was not well understood and that this is an excuse for failings is of concern.
Many of the clients I act for were abused many decades ago. In Huddersfield the victims were abused in the last 10 years. Is it really an excuse to say that the issue of child sex abuse was not well understood in 2011?
Girls were being plied with alcohol and drugs before being sexually abused one by one by gangs of men. How can the Director of Children’s Services suggest that “the issue of CSE was not well understood”. It is abundantly clear that these girls were being exploited and that this was being ignored by the authorities.
The failings of the authorities are again apparent in Huddersfield just as they were in Rochdale. Victims and their families say they repeatedly told West Yorkshire Police what was happening but no arrests were made until years later. This is exactly what I am repeatedly told by the victims that I act for in Rochdale.
Sadly Huddersfield is just another example of a long line of towns where children have been badly let down by the local authorities be it the Police or Children’s Services. First and foremost it is the abusers who are responsible and who should face long Prison sentences for their appalling acts. We must however begin to have more accountability within the local Social Services Department and Police Force where this type of abuse has been allowed to continue.
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