My home town of Dewsbury is in the news again for the wrong reasons. A few years ago we had the Shannon Matthews mother/ daughter “kidnap” incident. The Guardian today reports that West Yorkshire Police have made 55 arrests in recent weeks arising from Child Sexual Exploitation. This follows recent police arrests in Bradford and Huddersfield. I am really pleased that the Inspector in charge of the operation has made this his top priority. It needs to be the top priority. It ruins the lives of girls involved. It removes self-confidence. It ruins aspirations. It takes away career prospects. It scars families. I have seen it played out over and over again in my work in Rotherham.
The police are only now paying sufficient attention to this serious crime. I am sorry to have to say that the police have contributed to enabling the crime to take place. They turned a blind eye in years gone by. They may have been ignorant to the crime that was happening before their eyes. They should have been more alert. I remember as a teenager studying girls and men “flirting” on a street in Dewsbury Town Centre known as the Long Causeway. There was a taxi rank there. It was plain to see that what was happening was likely end in unlawful sexual activity. I assumed the police would have been dealing with it. We now know they weren’t.
I wish the police the very best in these prosecutions but the girls affected have the right to examine whether their abuse could have been prevented. My team specialises in helping survivors of abuse and can give free confidential advice. We have female solicitors able to help anyone affected. Ask for David Greenwood, Sally Smith, Bev Mercer or Amy Clowrey – tel 01924 882000 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org