SOME children in Bradford in northern England remain at risk of exploitation despite a “vast improvement” in the way the agencies responsible for their protection are working, according to an independent review.
The review, commissioned after nine men were jailed for sexual exploitation of girls housed in a council care home, noted that there were still “lessons to be learned” and the response to some victims was “not yet good enough”.
Some children still “remain unprotected while some perpetrators remain unknown and unchallenged”, the report, which looked into five cases of child sexual exploitation since 2001, noted.
Clare Hyde, who authored the report, said the children “suffered abuse no child should have to experience”, and in most cases, they “suffered other traumas and abuse long before they were sexually exploited.”
The report details the accounts of two of the child sexual exploitation victims – Fiona Goddard and Anna, a BBC report said.
According to Goddard who has given up her right to anonymity, “most of the girls who stayed in the care home where she lived were “victims of child sexual exploitation”.
She said she had reported “physical abuse, sexual abuse or rapes” but there was no follow-up action.
“They (the agencies) had the opportunity to nip it in the bud and save me from years of abuse but they never did,” said Goddard, 27.
Anna was also vocal about the inaction of agencies.
They “just ignored the abuse” and it “destroyed her childhood”, she said while concurring with Goddard that the cases needed an independent inquiry.
According to the report, Anna’s social worker recommended that she be placed in the foster care of the parents of the man who was abusing her.
“While living there, she became pregnant at the age of 15 and went on to marry him in an Islamic wedding, which she says was allowed by the authorities”, it said.
In its response to the review, Bradford Partnership, which comprises Bradford council, West Yorkshire police and the local clinical commissioning group, “apologised” to the children and “fully accepts that more needs to be done”.
“We want to apologise to the young people identified in this report and any others where the actions of agencies in Bradford have failed to protect them from child sexual exploitation… All the partners in our district are committed to protecting our children and to working with the police to bring perpetrators of this crime to justice,” it said in a joint statement.