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Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:

“The verdict today has mixed results, no doubt reflecting the complexity of the cases and the passage of time that has gone by. However, the important point is that there was a trial and there are convictions.

“The women who were abused, and their families, were denied justice in the past. They have found a measure of justice today. I fervently hope that this will enable them to live their lives more positively.

“The defendants who were found guilty in this trial brought so much misery and cruelty to these young women and their families. This judgement will send a message to any others who think they can get away with treating girls and young women in this way: they will be caught and they will be prosecuted.

“In order to get these results, however, the women – whose childhoods were lost to grooming and sexual exploitation – have had to re-live that past and to do it publicly in a court of law. They have had to be very strong in the face of aggressive questioning and we should acknowledge how hard that has been for them. Their courage will also help others to come forward to the police, knowing that this time they will be believed and they will be helped.

“I also acknowledge the part played by South Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for the months of careful preparation that has gone into these cases, and partners, including Rotherham Council for their support and dedication. This begins to right some of the wrongs that were highlighted in the report by Professor Alexis Jay.

“Victims services have played a significant role in preparing the victims for the court case and supporting and caring for them throughout and I would like to thank them for that. The jury has also given many weeks to the trial and have had to listen to a great deal of harrowing evidence.

“South Yorkshire Police had a lot to prove; but they have shown that they have learnt lessons from the past and are determined to get right what they got so badly wrong before. There are now in place teams of specially trained and dedicated officers determined to pursue and bring to justice those who exploit and abuse young people. I believe the public can be reassured that South Yorkshire is a safer place because of their commitment.

“In her report in 2014, Professor Alexis Jay believed there might be as many as 1400 young women who were exploited in similar ways in Rotherham in the period from 1997-2013. Whilst a number of women have come forward I now hope that this verdict will help others gain the courage to make themselves known to South Yorkshire Police and feel confident that they will be listened to, they will be believed and they will be helped.

“What has happened today begins to put right some of the injustices and institutional failures of the past. That is important for the people of Rotherham to hear. But it can never recover the women's lost childhoods or erase their terrible memories of the years of abuse. We must now ensure that we not only help victims of sexual exploitation to receive justice in the courts, but also help them to find better futures for themselves.”

Posted on Wednesday 24th February 2016
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