‘Inadequate system’ failed victim in 17-man child sex abuse case

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A harrowing report into the sexual abuse of a Halifax school girl has been published which outlines the failures and inadequacies of agencies and professionals.

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 17 men.

A judge at Leeds Crown Court passed jail sentences totalling more than 150 years on the men convicted of the horrific sexual abuse of the vulnerable schoolgirl earlier this year.

The criminal prosecution of this number of offenders was complex and took two years to piece together and resulted in three separate trials spread between February and June.

There has been considerable delay between starting the review in January 2015 and finalising the report this month.

This is because it was not possible to publish a serious case review report until the trials associated with the case have been completed, as the content of the review report may prejudice the trial.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief inspector Nicola Bryar, of West Yorkshire Police, said it was ‘the largest and longest running investigation into child sexual exploitation in Calderdale’. Serious case reviews are commissioned by local safeguarding children boards when a child has died through abuse or neglect or been seriously harmed and it is believed lessons can be learned from the way in which the local authority, their board partners or other relevant persons have worked together to protect the child.

Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board decided that this review would have a panel of senior managers (independent from Jeanette’s case) from local agencies who work with children, written reports from each agency written by managers who were independent of Jeanette’s case and two people independent of both the case and Calderdale agencies: one of whom would chair the panel and one of whom would lead the review and produce the report.

For more reaction and analysis of the report pick up a copy of Friday’s Halifax Courier.