Child sexual exploitation survivors nominate Rotherham for national award

Published Monday, 30th October 2017
Child Sexual Exploitation survivors nominate Rotherham for national award
Child Sexual Exploitation survivors including Sammy Woodhouse have nominated Rotherham's multi-agency team for a top national award

Two child sexual exploitation survivors nominated Rotherham’s multi-agency team for a top national award for supporting them through their court cases.

Sammy Woodhouse and Emma Jackson put forward Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Police and other agencies for a Partnership Award as part of the first national ‘Celebrating Services for Witnesses’ awards ceremony, held by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).

The team, who offered multi-agency victim support to survivors of child sexual exploitation as part of Operation Clover, scooped second place in the awards, which were held in Nottingham last Friday.

The multi-agency team was made up of Victim Support, South Yorkshire Police officers, Rotherham Council, Witness Care, GROW, and YWCA. Both Sammy and Emma gave evidence in the Operation Clover trials last year, which led to the convictions of 15 people across both trials, with jail sentences totalling more than 200 years.

Sammy said: “I nominated the Operation Clover team in three different categories. They helped me and so many others to get justice and for that I can never thank them enough. I am so pleased they have been recognised nationally like this for the absolutely excellent work they did to support me and other survivors through all of the trials.

“Without them we may not have had the confidence to stand up and speak out about how we had suffered. By having the confidence to do this we were able to finally secure convictions against the vile and evil perpetrators who had made out lives a living hell for so many years.

“It's really important that we hear about the positive work and relationships that are being built here in Rotherham and it's something we don't hear enough of. Building relationships and working with survivors is the key in moving forward and bringing perpetrators to account. These professionals didn't just build a relationship with me, they did with my children too and that's something I will always remember. They didn't just help me on my journey; they were a part of it.”

Emma added the support she got throughout Operation Clover changed her life for the better through their dedication and determination.

She said the team were more than worthy of this award: “They deserve to get national recognition like this and to be finally recognised for the good they have done. They have changed my life, and many others, but most importantly they have restored my faith in the police and the justice system.

“In 2003 I was sexually exploited in Rotherham and I never thought I would get justice. But at court the Clover team went above and beyond to make sure I was as confident and as comfortable as I could possibly be. In the end, all nine of my abusers got found guilty on all counts. That was a day that I never thought I would see and one that I am so thankful for.

“I will never be able to thank them enough for giving me the chance to be heard and most importantly believed.”

She added the Clover team not only helped get justice for her, but they also helped empower her to move forward in her life. Since meeting the team she has passed both her GCSE exams and an access course, and she is now at university studying to be a social worker; managing to achieve all this while going through two high profile court cases.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Tate, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Clover, said: “I think I speak for all agencies across our partnership when I say it is an honour to have been nominated for this national award by two of the young women who demonstrated exceptional bravery and strength throughout our investigation.

“It is because of the victims’ support and confidence in our team that we were able to secure such significant convictions, and to now receive national recognition for our victim engagement partnership is something everyone involved should be incredibly proud of. I’m very grateful to our survivors for their continued support.”

Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children’s Services at Rotherham Council added there was now more support for victims and survivors of CSE in Rotherham than ever before. He said: “Getting nominated like this is something we are really proud of, so thankyou to both Emma and Sammy for putting us forward. We are determined to make sure all victims and survivors have access to good services which is why as a Council we have commissioned a number of great services to deliver this for us here in Rotherham.”

Rotherham Rise and GROW were last year awarded a contract to provide all-age practical, emotional support and advocacy for young people and adults as victims and survivors of CSE. They also provide support to their families. This support complements existing services for victims and survivors of CSE as part of the wider offer in Rotherham.

Rotherham Abuse Counselling Service and Rotherham Rise were also awarded contracts to provide all-age evidence based therapeutic interventions to both adults and young people as victims and survivors of CSE.