UK

Rotherham Abuse Victims Travelled In Taxis 'Paid For By The Council'

29/08/2014 15:40 BST | Updated 29/08/2014 15:59 BST

Children who were sexually abused in Rotherham were sometimes collected and taken to their abusers in taxis paid for by the local council, it has been claimed.

Rotherham Council was severely criticised after it was revealed at least 1,400 children were abused in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013 - and authorites had failed to prevent it.

The damning report described cases of children in the Yorkshire town being "doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone".

The youngest victims were 11.

Most of the male perpetrators were of Pakistani descent and the report into the abuse found that authorities feared being labelled racist if they raised this.

ROTHERHAM ABUSE:

A man who used to work at a Rotherham children's care home, where some of the residents were targeted for abuse, said the victims' first contact with abusers would often come via taxis - paid for by the council in some cases.

The drivers would "take the longest route possible" and begin flirting with the girls, asking their age and then discussing sex.

Some girls would joke about performing sex acts on the drivers, the care home worker said.

He worked in the Rotherham care system from 2003 to 2008.

“One of the taxis was under contract to via RMBC. A phone call from us with a password and that would then be charged to Rotherham Borough Council,” the former care worker said, speaking anonymously on Radio Four's The Today Programme with his words spoken by an actor.

He said the "brazen" abusers would come to the unit itself to pick them up.

"Sometimes, (the abusers) would phone and they would pick up around the corner, but sometimes they would just turn up and pick up at the children's home," he said.

"It depended on how brazen they were or how much heat they thought was on at the time.

"They did genuinely think who was on shift, who would be likely to go outside the children's unit.

"I used to make a deliberate attempt to let them know that I had clocked their car, that I was taking their registration plate."

But he said abusers, if confronted, would "laugh off" the claims with a "good smirk".

"It was very much about the drug culture and the alcohol and the party culture," he said.

"They would sometimes say that they would have you stabbed or shot by one of their associates."

He also said girls at the home would regularly be out with their abusers in the evening, saying: "It was constant, a constant nighttime occurrence. It was very rare for the young people to actually be in at the night time."

He added: "Sometimes, they would tie bedsheets together and climb out of their window. Obviously, from a second storey window, that's dangerous as well."

Police were usually called whenever a girl went missing but they did not take much action beyond ensuring she was returned safely.