Victim’s story of grooming and sexual abuse revealed an ‘inadequate system’

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The independent organisation that carried out the serious case review about how a Halifax schoolgirl became the victim of child sexual exploitation said her story ‘describes an inadequate system’.

The Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board has published its findings into the case of a girl, referred to as Jeanette, who was the subject of child sex exploitation by a group of 15 men.

Barry Raynes, director of Reconstruct, carried out the independent review on behalf of the board.

Serious case reviews are commissioned when a child has died through abuse or neglect or been seriously harmed and it is believed lessons can be learned.

In the report Jeanette is described as a white British woman. Between 2008-2011 (when she was 12 – 15 years old) Jeanette was abused by a large number of men, she suggested over 100; 54 were arrested, 25 of whom were charged.

In his analysis Mr Raynes said that Jeanette’s story describes an inadequate system.

“This inadequacy had already been identified by Ofsted. The three main agencies, police, health and children’s social care initially failed to protect Jeanette until she realised she had been abused and actively sought out help.”

When analysing the period of Jeanette’s sexual exploitation between 2009-2011, Mr Raynes said: “There were many professionals trying to help Jeanette during this time including the police, school professionals, children’s social care workers and YOT members.

“This period of time is characterised by their own lack of co-ordination, and Jeanette being unable to recognise that she was being abused - which meant that she didn’t provide information to help children’s social care and the police to identify the men who were abusing her.

“Individual professionals were aware of the danger that Jeanette was in and were trying to take appropriate action.

“Nevertheless, during 2009-2011 these committed individual professionals (and others) were unable to protect Jeanette.

“In practice, professionals had no system to support them beyond making referrals to children’s social care - culminating in a series of meetings which did little more than allow professionals to express their concerns. The continual change of children’s social care worker (ten in all) meant that no plan, even if formulated, could be implemented properly.”

The report states Jeanette would meet men in the park and how it ‘wasn’t surprising that she chose to leave what appears to have been a cold and neglectful household and seek company and adventure in the park - mixing first with older girls and then enjoying the attention she was getting’.

It wasn’t until November 17, 2011, Jenette told her foster carer that she had once been raped by 19 men in one night.

“This disclosure was the beginning of the process whereby Jeanette, with help from her social worker and foster carers, understood that she was not responsible for the abuse she had suffered.

“This resulted in her making a full disclosure to the police regarding the sexual abuse she had suffered.”

In June 2013 (during the arrest phase for this case) the 25 (then) alleged perpetrators who were charged by the police and who appeared in courts in February 2015 were aged from 22 to 41 years old - ten were over the age of 30, the average age was 27.

Seven of the defendants lived in the Bradford area, one lived in Huddersfield and 17 lived in Halifax.

Some of those charged were unemployed, the police also recorded the following occupations: garage mechanic, taxi driver, staff in take away restaurants, sales assistant, textile worker, painter/decorator, doorman warehouse operative and driving instructor.