Campaigners are alarmed that evidence has gone missing from Rotherham police station
officers were under pressure to explain how key documents, which are
supposed to be kept under lock and key, vanished from Rotherham’s
central station amid accusations they are still failing to tackle the
issue of Asian grooming gangs.
As part of an Express.co.uk investigation into the Rotherham abuse scandal,
victims have told this website of their shock and disgust that evidence
they provided to the police in the form of witness statements and DNA
later disappeared without explanation.
One even raised suspicions
police tipped off her abuser that she had contacted them, saying he
began texting her death threats within hours of her attending the
station alone to give an interview to officers.
vanish from the police evidence room at Rotherham police station are a
teenager’s diary which chronicled her years of sex abuse at the hands of
grooming gangs, a victim’s original interview notes with officers and a
14-year-old’s DNA evidence.
The revelations will add to the
already serious questions about South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the
investigation into child sexual exploitation in the town, which has
been dogged by scandal.
One witness called Lizzie – not her real
name – told express.co.uk that her witness statements went missing after
she attended Rotherham police station to give a statement to officers
about the abuse she had suffered.
Campaigners say evidence has gone missing from Rotherham police station
Vital clues including DNA have vanished from the evidence room
“That’s all they’ve released, they are claiming that the other files are lost or they can’t find them.
“I did a lot of interviews, statements. It’s very dodgy the amount of things that have gone missing.”
who was groomed by a gang of Asian men from the age of 15, also raised
fears that a corrupt officer told her abuser she had contacted the
She said: “I can remember ringing the police when I got
attacked by one of them and somehow he found out and then he was
messaging me, threatening messages. Now how did he find out, because
nobody knew I’d been to do the interview and the statement?
used to call me a white bitch and tell me that if I didn’t tell them I
was lying they were going to set my flat on fire with petrol, they were
going to burn me alive and kill my family and torture my disabled
grandma. The things he said were evil, they were disgusting.”
Police in Rotherham have been criticised over their investigations into grooming crimes
Rotherham has been the scene of a horrific child grooming gang scandal
testimony follows revelations in court that South Yorkshire Police
“lost” the diary of a young girl who was subjected to years of sexual
The shocking claims are not the first time that Rotherham
victims have reported concerns that detectives had lost vital evidence
relevant to their cases.
In August 2014 one victim, using the
pseudonym Emma, told the BBC that officers “lost” DNA evidence she had
given them to help them build a case against her attackers.
revealed: “I did a formal video interview, I went to be examined by a
police officer who examined me internally and externally to measure my
injuries they took away my evidence which they were quite surprised that
I’d got evidence but I had I’d got clothing that I’d been abused in.
then phoned me a couple of days after that to tell me that they’d
actually lost my evidence. Their attitude all along was as though I was
just complaining about nothing and maybe I should just get over it.”
a former social worker who helps victims of abuse told this website the
disappearance of evidence from Rotherham police station is “common”.
said: “Over the 17 years this is quite common really, it’s not an
isolated case. I wouldn’t say there have been hundreds, but there have
been quite a few.”
Express.co.uk has heard shocking details of
the police’s inadequate approach to child sex abuse, including how 101
call handlers have questioned why victims are reporting instances of
rape and witness intimidation.
Victims and their families told how
police are not even logging instances of intimidation as a crime when
they are reported, adding that detectives often repeat the mantra that
they can only arrest abusers after they have committed an assault.
It’s very dodgy the amount of things that have gone missing
his daughter were targeted by an “Asian” man with known links to her
abuser – who has been jailed – when they went to pick up the keys to
their new house from Rotherham’s council offices.
The family had
been forced to move for their own protection after gangs of young
Kashmiri men launched a campaign of intimidation against them, hanging
around outside their house and threatening to set it alight.
said: “We went to the council offices to do an interview and get the
keys for the new house and I saw this Asian bloke standing there staring
at us and I thought I know him.
“Halfway through the interview
this woman barged in and said stop this interview, we’ve had a complaint
from an Asian man saying you’ve racially abused him, told him ‘f******
Paki, f*** off back to Pakistan’. “
The father told express.co.uk the name of the man, which we have withheld to protect the identity of his daughter.
said: “Fortunately on the way into the council offices there was a girl
struggling to get her pram up the steps and I helped her, so I went and
found her and she confirmed that I had said nothing to him whatsoever.
The council officer who was interviewing me also backed us up.
phoned the police and said this is intimidation, and they said we can’t
prove it. But there were two independent witnesses, so why can’t they?
asked the police officer, said to him ‘if that girl hadn’t been there
to back me up you would’ve arrested me wouldn’t you?’ And he said ‘yes’.
that independent witness I’d have been evicted and my family homeless.
But it was just his word against mine, so why could the police proceed
with that but not with reports of intimidation?”
More than 1,400 girls were abused in the town over two decades
And victims have told express.co.uk the scandal is still ongoing
said he recently called the police about the incident, which happened
in February of this year, and was stunned to discover they had not even
recorded it as a crime.
He added: “It seems to me that because
they’ve had this big court case now and it looks like they’ve achieved
something they just don’t care. “
Lawyer David Greenwood said he
had heard countless complaints from victims of child abuse about police
inaction and missing evidence.
Mr Greenwood, who represented
dozens of girls for Switalskis solicitors, said: “I have heard many,
many stories about police inaction, that police won’t take statements in
the first place, back in the early 2000s.
“It would be difficult
to list the number of complaints of that nature and there’s obviously
an IPCC investigation going on into that.
“They have had more
than 100 complaints of neglect of duty by police officers. Yeah, I have
seen lots of evidence of that, evidence of corruption also.
added: “But if we bring ourselves up to date, the police are still
learning but they have done a reasonable job on Operation Clover [SYP’s
ongoing investigation into historic child sexual exploitation].”
scandal comes after if emerged that vital files containing the details
of victims and intelligence about abusers, including where and how they
were operating, were stolen from the locked office of a Rotherham
council worker in 2002.
The files were compiled by a woman
working from the offices of Risky Business at the Rotherham
International Centre on a Home Office funded project to investigate ways
of stopping grooming gangs.
Express.co.uk wrote to South
Yorkshire Police presenting the allegations to them and setting out a
series of questions for them to answer.
We asked the force
whether it has launched an internal investigation into the disappearance
of material from Rotherham police station, and whether it is
considering bolstering security around the secure evidence room.
also requested details of how many reports of evidence relating to
child sexual exploitation going missing the force has received in the
last six years.
The force declined to comment on the issue.
READ MORE: ROTHERHAM ABUSE SCANDAL: Horrific reality of ‘industrial scale’ child grooming revealed
ALSO: READ HOW GIRLS IN ROTHERHAM ARE PETRIFIED OF TELLING POLICE OF ABUSE FOR FEAR OF LOSING THEIR CHILDREN
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