The Express Day Three
VITAL pieces of evidence which could have outed new suspects in the Rotherham grooming scandal have gone “missing” from the town’s police station with alarming regularity. This isn’t new – that it is still happening is the worrying thing.
Senior officers were under pressure to explain how key documents, which are supposed to be kept under lock and key, vanished from Rotherham’s central station amid accusations they are still failing to tackle the issue of Asian grooming gangs.
As part of an Express.co.uk investigation into the Rotherham abuse scandal, victims have told this website of their shock and disgust that evidence they provided to the police in the form of witness statements and DNA later disappeared without explanation. Amongst the documents to vanish from the police evidence room at Rotherham police station are a teenager’s diary which chronicled her years of sex abuse at the hands of grooming gangs, a victim’s original interview notes with officers and a 14-year-old’s DNA evidence.
One even raised suspicions police tipped off her abuser that she had contacted them, saying he began texting her death threats within hours of her attending the station alone to give an interview to officers. Lizzie, who was groomed by a gang of Asian men from the age of 15, also raised fears that a corrupt officer told her abuser she had contacted the police.
She said: “I can remember ringing the police when I got attacked by one of them and somehow he found out and then he was messaging me, threatening messages. Now how did he find out, because nobody knew I’d been to do the interview and the statement? He used to call me a white bitch and tell me that if I didn’t tell them I was lying they were going to set my flat on fire with petrol, they were going to burn me alive and kill my family and torture my disabled grandma. The things he said were evil, they were disgusting.”
And a former social worker who helps victims of abuse told this website the disappearance of evidence from Rotherham police station is “common”. They said: “Over the 17 years this is quite common really, it’s not an isolated case. I wouldn’t say there have been hundreds, but there have been quite a few.”
One victim’s father told how he and his daughter were targeted by an “Asian” man with known links to her abuser – who has been jailed – when they went to pick up the keys to their new house from Rotherham’s council offices. The family had been forced to move for their own protection after gangs of young Kashmiri men launched a campaign of intimidation against them, hanging around outside their house and threatening to set it alight.
He said: “We went to the council offices to do an interview and get the keys for the new house and I saw this Asian bloke standing there staring at us and I thought I know him. Halfway through the interview this woman barged in and said stop this interview, we’ve had a complaint from an Asian man saying you’ve racially abused him, told him ‘f****** Paki, f*** off back to Pakistan’. “
He said: “Fortunately on the way into the council offices there was a girl struggling to get her pram up the steps and I helped her, so I went and found her and she confirmed that I had said nothing to him whatsoever. The council officer who was interviewing me also backed us up. I phoned the police and said this is intimidation, and they said we can’t prove it. But there were two independent witnesses, so why can’t they?
“I asked the police officer, said to him ‘if that girl hadn’t been there to back me up you would’ve arrested me wouldn’t you?’ And he said ‘yes’. “Without that independent witness I’d have been evicted and my family homeless. But it was just his word against mine, so why could the police proceed with that but not with reports of intimidation?”
He said he recently called the police about the incident, which happened in February of this year, and was stunned to discover they had not even recorded it as a crime. He added: “It seems to me that because they’ve had this big court case now and it looks like they’ve achieved something they just don’t care. “
Express.co.uk wrote to South Yorkshire Police presenting the allegations to them and setting out a series of questions for them to answer.
We asked the force whether it has launched an internal investigation into the disappearance of material from Rotherham police station, and whether it is considering bolstering security around the secure evidence room. We also requested details of how many reports of evidence relating to child sexual exploitation going missing the force has received in the last six years.
The force declined to comment on the issue.