After guilty verdicts in the Rotherham abuse trial, David Greenwood, the solicitor representing 65 survivors of abuse in Rotherham speaks to Socialist Worker
“I think almost every young person that I’ve spoken to has complained about the police. Complaints about the police among survivors come up time and time again.
Some have said that they were in situations as children where it was obvious to police they shouldn’t have been. They were in the company of much older adults in the backs of cars, particular buildings, etc.
Some say that their parents complained to the police and no action was taken. Others said that they complained directly and were dissuaded from doing so. The IPCC has between 100 and 200 complaints from our clients about inactivity from the police.
I don’t know how many others they have had.
If I were being kind to the police I would say that they were incompetent. But I actually think there was an element of corruption going on.
Sometimes police may be inexperienced or incapable of understanding that criminal offences are taking place. Others may be actively making decisions to dismiss allegations because they have some kind of links with abusers.
It can be difficult to work out where the line is between those two categories. But at the moment in terms of the evidence it’s fairly stark. You can show which instance belongs to which category of response.
We’ve heard evidence in the trial of money and drugs being passed between police and abusers. We’ve heard evidence of behaviour from the police which suggests an element of corruption.
I’m sure that at the heart of this there’s money.
I think it’s really important that we drill down into that level of detail because we need to know how this failure could have happened on such an extensive basis. It’s obviously involved multiple police officers over a long time period.
I’m fairly sure it was some kind of informal organisation that was operating within the Rotherham subdivision. I think I’m right in assuming that at any one time in Rotherham, during this period, there would have been ten or 12 beat officers working.
They all share the same radios, the same canteens and offices.
They all become aware of each other’s activities. To suggest that this type of activity has not been picked up on through simple negligence is stretching it too far. I think these officers will have known that certain of their number were turning blind eyes to these allegations.
Things have improved but there are still problems.
I’ve been out with a young woman who took me to different places where she was taken, and we saw suspicious activity in various different lonely car parks.
I’m certain abuse is still going on in Rotherham."