This September, October and November will see a number of criminal trials in Yorkshire relating to Child Sexual Exploitation and abuse by groups of men across Rotherham, Kirklees (Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Mirfield, Batley) and Bradford.
The trials involve multiple perpetrators and relate to historic sexual and other offences against children. The men have been charged as part of large-scale police investigations: Operation Tendersea and Operation Dalesway in West Yorkshire, and Operation Stovewood in Rotherham.
Child Sexual Exploitation, often referred to a CSE, is a particularly damaging type of psychological, sexual, and often physical abuse which affects children and teenagers. Typically, young people are approached and then groomed with offerings of food, cigarettes, drink and drugs. Once they have been groomed, they are coerced into sexual activity with adults and some children are trafficked to other towns and cities.
Sometimes the most vulnerable children are targeted who may have problems at school or at home or are in local authority care. Equally often however children come from loving homes with parents who desperately and continually try to get help from the authorities tasked with the protection of children.
Historically CSE has been neglected by police and local authorities and characterised as a choice, or even a moral failing on the part of the children. It has not been uncommon for children to effectively be blamed for their own abuse, being regarded as engaging in risky behaviours or ‘lifestyles’ or being out of control and beyond help.
This is not the case of course and the children being coerced into sexual activity with adults must be treated as victims and their abusers pursued with the full force of the law.
Regrettably the historic failure of professionals is part of the reason that it often takes victims many years or even decades to fully accept that they have been exploited and think about contacting the police or speaking to a solicitor to make a civil claim.
There are however signs of improvement. There have been a series of high-profile criminal trials in which large groups of men and women have been brought to justice. There have been successful prosecutions in Rotherham, Rochdale, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Newcastle and Oxford to name but a few.
This autumn will, hopefully, see further perpetrators brought to justice with trials taking place in South and West Yorkshire with men charged with multiple sexual and other offences against young people.
In addition, investigations are still ongoing in police forces across the UK, and, in the case of Rotherham, the National Crime Agency was called in to spearhead the investigation of CSE offences in the town. This investigation began in 2014 and is still ongoing which is testament to the scale of the problem.
Switalskis Solicitors have a large team of child abuse lawyers, each with many years of experience, who work to support and assist survivors. We help by seeking justice and making claims for compensation in respect of their abuse and the failure of bodies to protect them. I, together with David Greenwood and Amy Clowrey, form a team within the Child Abuse department who specialise in Child Sexual Exploitation cases. We are based in Yorkshire but have clients from all corners of the UK and will travel to meet with you if we are able to take on your case.
If you have been a victim of CSE or other sexual, physical or psychological abuse and would like a confidential conversation about the redress available to you, then please ring me on 01924 882000 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to discuss your case with you in complete confidence.