Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, says grooming gangs were trafficking girls from Derby to other areas of the country with police ‘failing to act’.
She told how she was abused by predatory gangs while a runaway from care homes in Derby in the early 2000s, reports Birmingham Live.
Sarah says Asian men of Pakistani heritage would regularly take her and friends to Birmingham where she was plied with drink and drugs and abused.
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Sarah says she was extensively groomed and abused in Derby and later repeatedly trafficked between Derby, Birmingham and Bradford by men from Birmingham and Derby.
In one incident, she claims West Midlands Police officers stopped a car she was in with a group of abusers and another girl.
Despite taking the underage youngsters’ names and ages she says she was allowed on her way with the gang.
Sarah said: “Birmingham police stopped the car and took mine and my friend’s names and the men’s names. I was really scared as I didn’t know what was going to happen but the police just let us drive off.
“When we later got back to my care home the staff told me the police had rung and said we’d been stopped with really dangerous men. I thought, ‘Well if they were that dangerous why did you leave us with them?'”
She said: “I gave Derby police my Birmingham offenders’ names – but no one has ever been charged.
“I know of lots of Derby girls who were groomed in Birmingham, I don’t know why we don’t see high profile grooming cases in court in Birmingham like we have seen elsewhere in the country.”
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She added: “I was groomed and abused between 1999 and 2003. And I was really horrendously groomed in Birmingham. It wasn’t just me, lots of girls, and lots of girls I know, were taken from Derby to be abused in Birmingham.
“I gave all the information I had to Derby police in 2012. No one was charged but I was very traumatised and very mentally unwell then so I don’t really know what happened.”
Sarah was born to a drug addict and prostitute mother and endured an unimaginable upbringing.
Her care records, which BirminghamLive has seen, reflect that she was targeted by her mum’s dealers and ‘clients’ from a young age as her ‘evil’ mother allowed sickening attacks to take place in return for drugs.
“I look at it in separate ways,” she recalled.
“On the one hand, my mum was evil. A lot of groomers who groom children just happen to be heroin and crack dealers, they are gang members, they are mafia-type gang members.
“My mum was in care herself, she was abused, she was not believed, she had mental health issues and is on crack and heroin, she’s selling herself on the corner and that’s very normal to her because that is what they let happen to my mum.
“So mum was kind of groomed, you could say, into heroin, exploitation, so in one way I feel that groomers targeted my mum so she’s a kind of victim too. In another way, it’s as though my mum was totally in on my abuse as well.”
She added: “Because I was very young, the reason I got removed from my mum’s care was because her pimps abused me.
“My care records show that I was abused by a man whilst in my mother’s care and social workers believed me – but I was still left with her. I was then abused again and taken into care.
“Then in my early teens I was abused for five years by grooming gangs, mostly Asian men of Pakistani heritage – whilst I was living in care.”
To ‘protect’ her from her dangerous home life, social services moved her into care in her early teens.
But rather than bring her to safety, and she says she was targeted by grooming gangs who abused her over a number of years.
She said: “I mostly lived in a care home in Derby.
“I sued two councils recently and was awarded more than £150,000 for their failure to protect me – one during my early life when I was in my mother’s care, the other for failing to stop the grooming during my teens.
“My care files are full of references to the abuse, the care home staff would note down who I went off with, who dropped me off, they’d note down men’s number plates.
“What I found the most awful thing of all was that I was really badly blamed and I was scapegoated. Social services actually wrote down that I was the main player in my own abuse by the grooming gangs – I was just 14.
“To me, I feel like I’ve been like an experiment. I know nobody wouldn’t consciously experiment – but if you just sit back and watch something and you keep documents on it and records on it, to me that’s really sick.”
It was during her care years that she says trafficking to and from Birmingham began to accelerate, for her and other girls in the care system
She said: “I was taken to Birmingham a lot – for three years I was repeatedly missing. There were hundreds of men involved in Birmingham.
“They brought lots of girls from Derby to Birmingham – men from Birmingham would pick us up – and men from Derby would take us to Birmingham.
“I do remember some areas. I was taken to Stechford and Alum Rock. One guy was from Stechford, he used to take me to his sister-in-law’s, to his family’s house.
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“My children’s home (in Derby) knew all about it, they’d seen him drop me off, pick me up, they weren’t bothered. I would say he was probably about in his 30s. I gave the Stechford man’s name to the police when I reported everything in 2012.
“I made reports to the police about Birmingham as well. No one was charged.”
She said most of the men were members of gangs and she thinks she developed Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which hostages or victims develop affection for their captors.
“It sounds weird but I felt like a minor celebrity,” she said.
“I know it sounds stupid but I’d gone from being nothing and no one at all to being like a junkie’s daughter who stands on the corner, a waste of taxpayers’ money to just being another kid who’s then pushed around to like every single person, everywhere I went in certain Asian areas in Birmingham and Derby, noticing me.
“I was being bought things and given drugs, alcohol, it sounds awful but it was almost like I felt like I was part of the gang, even though I wasn’t.
“I was just a gang’s little toy, it’s like they made you feel like you were someone.
“And then you learn pretty quickly that you’re not, you know, they’re sleeping with all your friends. And you don’t see it as grooming, you’ve been betrayed because they’re sleeping with all your friends and you feel like they’re cheating on you, and that’s your boyfriend and your boyfriend’s cheating on you.
“So now you’ve got another boyfriend and he’s cheating on you and even though there’s so many men, you’d think that it would be weird, or you’d be like, ‘Whoa, that’s a lot of men’, but when you’ve been abused your entire life and nobody’s done anything to really stop that, then it’s like you don’t know any different, you think that is just the world.
“And some people would say to me that I talk about it in such a matter of fact way, but it is a matter of fact that’s my life.
“Only more recently have I found out that it isn’t like everyone’s life. It’s like a certain set of society.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy but it’s modern-day Stockholm Syndrome. There was one man, he was really cruel to me, he kidnapped me, he hunted me, he raped me.
“He was very mentally unstable. Sometimes it’s like the nicer you are to a person, they make it easier on you. You kind of bond through this trauma because there’s nobody else there. There is nobody else to bond with, who else could I bond with?
“And it is this bond and even when they see me now their natural reaction is to be like, ‘Oh hiya’, and they’re so deluded. I’ve had two or three men write to my inbox, ‘Come on Facebook, find me’, they’ve messaged me and I’ve said,
‘What are you doing? You groomed me, you abused me, I’m not a child, I know what you did’.
“They’ve said sorry but they’ve no thought for consequence because I’m so ridiculous, and nobody cares, just so they can abuse me again.
“I mean what kind of nightmare is this? Just so they can have sex because obviously now they’re looking for sex again. Because they are predators on the prowl and they’ll never change.”
Sarah had reported her abuse by Asian grooming gangs in 2012, to Derbyshire Police officers.
She said: “I made lots of statements about Derby men and Birmingham men. Nothing happened at all. They said they’d spoken to some other girls, and that was it, nothing was going ahead. And I was really mentally ill at the time.
“So just more recently some other girls have come forward and the police have contacted me but I can’t trust them at all because the men are so dangerous and the police, they’ve been so awful to me.
“I still get targeted now. One man, who had groomed and abused me and I made statements about him, messaged me at Christmas.
“He told me he was my old friend. I said, ‘No, you groomed me and abused me, you’re not my friend, you’re a rapist’, and he ended up admitting it all and saying that he’s sorry and that he was only 22 (even though I was only 13) and that he was stupid.
“The men that targeted me, back then, they still sometimes try to target me now and the police won’t do anything because I’m over 18. I can’t take it.”
A breakthrough did come in 2011 when Operation Retriever in Derby led to the conviction of nine men for multiple offences ranging from rape to intimidating witnesses. Their victims totalled 27 teenage girls.
So-called ringleaders Mohammed Liaqat, then aged 28, and Abid Saddique, then aged 27, were found guilty of charges including rape.
Saddique was jailed for at least 11 years and Liaqat for a minimum of eight.
Ironically Operation Retriever was sparked after Staffordshire police pulled over three men and were concerned to see two young teenagers with them. They had been reported missing from a care home in Derby.
On that occasion, the officers drove the girls back to Derby and it was during that journey that they disclosed why they had been with the men. Staffordshire Police shared the information with Derbyshire officers and soon after Operation Retriever began which saw suspects put under surveillance.
In April 2009 the surveillance ended abruptly when two tearful teenagers fell out of a Derby flat police were watching and called 999. They claim they had been raped. The officers had not known they were there.
Sarah believes police were aware of grooming in Derby almost a full decade before Operation Retriever launched.
“They did Operation Glint and I think that was in 2001,” she said.
“It was an undercover operation surrounding me and another girl. It’s mentioned in my care records which show that police watched and saw that we were getting in taxis with men and getting dropped off, but they (police) didn’t do anything.
“My care records note that the operation was supposed to run for two weeks but the records say it they did only two days. So they had known about this (grooming) a lot longer and it’s not come out how long they did know.”
Sarah says she met with the Children’s Commissioner and told her about Operation Glint, ‘so she would know how far back grooming in the city went’.
But she remains without justice.
“I don’t think any of the men who abused me in Birmingham will have ever been brought to justice,” she said.
“There were literally hundreds over time. They’d ply you with drink and weed, you were so drunk you didn’t always know what was happening.”
“There were a lot of people from Birmingham but a lot of them were just strangers that I met in Birmingham. My friend was going out with a man there, I remember his name but I don’t remember his mates’ names.
“It was so mad. That’s the bit that really hurts, is that you can’t really process it. What’s really scary is when you’re at the train station and some guy comes up to you and says ‘Do you remember me? I know you do, you remember me’.
“These things happened, and I’d be thinking, ‘He does look familiar, but I don’t know’. It’s not just what you remember, it’s like opportunists, you get in the car and they abuse you and you get out, there’s no chance of ever getting justice or even ever making sense of it or even putting a name to a face.
“I see the way that they targeted us, and the CPS, imagine like back then, me keep going to the police, over and over again, saying this has happened, they would have said, ‘You’re mad’. I feel like, why did all these bad things happen to me, what’s wrong with me?
“Because it didn’t happen to the CPS and it didn’t happen to the police. Why me? What is wrong with me? And then obviously you find out that it was a lot of girls. Thousands and thousands of girls. But I spent most of my time going, ‘What is wrong with me? Do I attract it?'”
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She did however win two council payouts totalling £150,000 for failing to protect her while in care.
“In the end I received about £152,000 from the two different councils. It was like in two parts. Some of the compensation was for not removing me from my mother’s care knowing that she was an abuser and that I got sexually abused, they had to pay for that.
“And then for the grooming, the councils, which were like the children’s homes, they had to pay out for the grooming. It doesn’t help. I just bought a house with it because I’d been homeless before, and obviously being homeless you can get sexually assaulted, that’s what I know.
“I wanted not to waste it because that money, I lost my home growing up and now things should be a little bit easier for me. I don’t have a mortgage. And I can leave the house to my child because I don’t have any family. If anything happens to me, then at least I know that my child’s got a house.”
Chilling documents she obtained showed authorities knew the danger she was in but failed to protect her.
Sarah said: “I sued two councils recently, one part of it is not about the grooming, but the second council area I lived in which was Derby City Council, I sued them because of the grooming and they admitted it.
“They were liable for not protecting me from the grooming. What I found the most awful thing of all was that I was really badly blamed and I was scapegoated – it’s always in my files, I’ve read all my social care files which is how I sued them.
“And they (social services) actually wrote down that I was the main player in my own abuse aged 14 about the grooming gangs.
She added: “Why did I keep putting myself in the lion’s den because I’ve asked myself this question? I mean it’s a lion. But to me it’s a cute little teddy bear because I am a grooming victim.
“I was drowning in a sea of abuse, treading water while frantically screaming for help and people thought I was waving. And they were waving at me instead of trying to save me. How many more historical child grooming victims are there in society right now who have not yet been heard or helped?
What Derbyshire Police said
Derbyshire Police said: “We did receive an allegation from this particular victim but unfortunately at the time, officers were unable to gather enough evidence to secure a prosecution.
“As part of our inquiries, our officers did liaise with another local police force to share relevant information.
“We welcome any new information which would allow us to carry out further investigations in this case and would urge anyone with information to come forward and speak to us.
“We will always investigate and take reports of this nature seriously.”
On the historical Operation Glint, Derbyshire Police confirmed: “We did run an operation into child sexual exploitation, known as Operation Glint. It isn’t unusual for forces to run operations in this area as we look to safeguard vulnerable victims and identify offenders.”
The force claimed the operation lasted two weeks.