Police failure left violent sex offender free to abuse young children in Rotherham, report finds


The complaint against South Yorkshire Police was made by sex abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse, who was groomed by Arshid Hussain from the age of 14 

A watchdog investigation centred on the child sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham has found police failures left violent sex offender Arshid Hussain free to abuse young children, according to reports.

South Yorkshire Police knew the child sex abuse gang leader had ‘a number of relationships with young girls in foster care’ as early as 2000, according to a new report, which has been seen by the Times.

The investigation found officers – none of whom face disciplinary charges – also made a deal with Hussain, in which he would deliver one of his missing 14-year-old victims to police.

He was not arrested, nor questioned, when the girl was returned, the report adds.

Despite the force’s knowledge of Hussain, it took police until 2013 to take official action against him – and only after one of his victims had publicly spoken about the abuse she suffered.

Hussain was jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences against nine girls – some as young as 11 – after his sickening crimes were finally uncovered. 

Now, after five years, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has released its findings following a complaint against South Yorkshire Police, the Times reports.

The complaint was made by sex abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse, who was groomed by Hussain from the age of 14.

She was subjected to unthinkable sexual abuse by then-25-year-old Hussain, who impregnated her in the course of his abuse.

Ms Woodhouse waived her right to anonymity as a rape victim in 2017 to expose Hussain and his grooming gang.

She also made a complaint against South Yorkshire Police to the IOPC – an independent watchdog which handles complaints against police forces in England and Wales.

Ms Woodhouse was subjected to unthinkable sex abuse by Hussain, who impregnated her in the course of his abuse

Ms Woodhouse was subjected to unthinkable sex abuse by Hussain, who impregnated her in the course of his abuse

Now the watchdog has upheld Ms Woodhouse’s complaint, according to the Times.

The IOPC findings say that police failed to ‘deal appropriately with information which may have led to a suspect being prosecuted at an earlier stage, thereby exposing other children to abuse’.

The report found Hussain appeared on police’s radar as early as 2000 – when they were aware of his ‘relationship’ with Ms Woodhouse, then 14, and her pregnancy.

According to the report, police later brokered a deal with Hussain to return the missing teenager to officers. But he was not arrested nor questioned during the handover.

Hassan Ali, the officer who brokered the deal, would have been served with a gross misconduct notice for the incident, but died in 2015, the report added.

Other missed opportunities highlighted in the report include a multi-agency meeting which was scheduled to take place about Hussain – though there are no records to show it did.

Arshid Hussain (pictured) was eventually jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences against nine girls - some as young as 11 – after his sickening crimes were finally uncovered

Arshid Hussain (pictured) was eventually jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences against nine girls – some as young as 11 – after his sickening crimes were finally uncovered

South Yorkshire Police accepted the findings, according to the Times, while Ms Woodhouse told the paper it was a ‘bittersweet moment’, adding that the ‘suffering of so many more girls and their families could have been prevented’.   

Ms Woodhouse grew up in Rotherham and was groomed by child sex gang leader Hussain when she was 14 years old.

She was subjected to horrendous abuse including rape and assaults and Hussain also coerced her by threatening to kill her family.

He also forced her to rob a post office aged 15 and when police raided Hussain’s home later that year they found her in bed with him but failed to arrest him and charged her with possessing a baton.

After years of abuse she approached The Times anonymously with her claims, leading to the Jay Inquiry which exposed the Rotherham gang and led to the discovery of more than 1,400 victims between 1997 and 2013.

Hussain was eventually jailed for 35 years. He is now in a wheelchair after surviving a shooting.

Ms Woodhouse meanwhile waived her anonymity on the BBC in 2017.

She has since led campaigns to change the laws around child sex abuse victims, particularly supporting a bill named after her, Sammy’s Law, that would pardon child sex abuse victims who are coerced into committing crimes.

How Sammy Woodhouse has fought to protect others from enduring abuse  

Sammy Woodhouse grew up in Rotherham and was groomed by child sex gang leader Arshid Hussain when she was 14 years old.

She was subjected to horrendous abuse including rape and assaults and Hussain also coerced her by threatening to kill her family.

He also forced her to rob a post office aged 15 and when police raided Hussain’s home later that year they found her in bed with him but failed to arrest him and charged her with possessing a baton.

Hussain also forced her to fight another girl a few months later, for which Ms Woodhouse was later charged with assault.

She missed much of her education and worked as a stripper and model. She eventually had a child by Hussain but fled to keep him away from his family.

After years of abuse she approached The Times anonymously with her claims, leading to the Jay Inquiry which exposed the Rotherham gang and led to the discovery of more than 1,400 victims between 1997 and 2013. Hussain was eventually jailed for 35 years.

Ms Woodhouse was a teenager when she was groomed by her rapist Arshid Hussain known as 'Mad Ash'

Ms Woodhouse was a teenager when she was groomed by her rapist Arshid Hussain known as ‘Mad Ash’

Ms Woodhouse waived her anonymity on the BBC in 2017.

She has been leading campaigns to change the laws around child sex abuse victims, particularly supporting a bill named after her, Sammy’s Law, that would pardon child sex abuse victims who are coerced into committing crimes.    

The bill was supported by Vera Baird, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, by Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, by Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and by Simon Bailey, the Chief Constable of the Norfolk Constabulary, among several other chief constables and crime commissioners.

Last year she slammed Rotherham Council for trying to help Hussain get in contact with the son he fathered by rape.

She said the council should have opposed taking the step to give Hussain access as she fights for a change in the law to deny rapists access to children they have fathered in sickening attacks.

Sammy Woodhouse

Sammy Woodhouse 

‘They should’ve fought for that child,’ she said. ‘What they’ve done is hand my son over on a plate to a rapist.’

Ms Woodhouse conducts speaking events at schools and elsewhere, explaining to teenagers, the police and social workers how to recognise that someone is being groomed.

She also wrote a book, Just a Child: Britain’s Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed, which was released in April 2018.

In November 2018, over the first three days, more than three hundred thousand people signed a petition by Woodhouse and Labour MP Louise Haigh, which called for the amendment of the Children Act 1989 to ‘ban any male with a child conceived by rape from applying for access/rights’.

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