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Social care expert uncovers 'most shocking' child abuse case

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The children’s social care expert who reviewed cases of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham said one of the cases was the “most shocking” she had come across in 40 years of practice.

Jean Imray reviewed Rotherham MBC’s response to 15 cases highlighted in the 2014 report by Alexis Jay, which found 1,400 children in the town had been sexually abused between 1997 and 2013.

Her report published yesterday found “significant deficits” in the performance of social workers and managers in relation to decision-making, assessments, record keeping and case recording.

The report highlighted the case referred to as ‘child E’ and said the failings were “of such magnitude” that a further “forensic” review was required as there was evidence of “significant culpability” of two social care staff who no longer work at the council.

Ms Imray found there were clear allegations of “significant inter-generational interfamilial child sexual abuse of the most serious nature” while the child was under the care of Rotherham MBC.

But she said it was unclear from council records and checks with police that anything was done to properly investigate the allegations.

The report said Child E was raped in the first council residential care unit she was placed in and then was subsequently raped aged 12 by a 16-year-old with a known history of sexually abusive behaviour, who was a resident in the unit she was subsequently moved to.

Child E’s case remained unallocated to a social worker for over six months following the two incidents.

Speaking about the case during a council meeting yesterday Ms Imray said: “That case was probably the most shocking that I have ever come across in my whole 40 years of working in the children’s social field.

“That is why I felt it deserved a more forensic review of all the casework, not just for the period covered by the Jay report and not just in relation to the allegations of child sexual exploitation but the whole of [Child E’s] life.”

She added that she had seen records that were not available to Professor Jay that provided a “much broader understanding” of the case.

Ms Imray confirmed the case was referred to Rotherham’s local safeguarding children board and then the national safeguarding board, but it was decided the case did not meet the criteria for a serious case review.

She added that the case was then referred to an “independent expert” which has led to a police investigation being launched.

Ms Imray added: “It could never be good news for Child E because of the damage to [her] was too great but at least some of the perpetrators of the abuse against her are now being investigated.”

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