An independent review is to take place into whether the authorities failed the young victims of the Huddersfield grooming gang.
Kirklees Council has commissioned Professor Mark Peel, former Professor of Social Work at the University of Leicester, to conduct an independent review of historic cases of child sex abuse in the town, Director of Children's Services Steve Walker announced outside Leeds Crown Court today.
Both he and the senior detective who led the investigation into the grooming gang faced questions from the media about whether the authorities had done enough to protect the young victims.
But neither would answer questions, instead reading from prepared statements.
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Mottershaw, from West Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation, said: “First and most importantly, I would like to pay tribute to each and every victim who came forward firstly to report these heinous crimes, but to go through the gruelling court process which has taken nearly a year to conclude and to bravely give their accounts to us and the court.
"I cannot praise them enough for their courage and tenacity in helping us secure justice for them against these defendants.
“The investigation into this case has been extremely complex and the investigative team have worked tirelessly for the past five years to ensure that no stone has been left unturned.
"We welcome the convictions and sentences which have been passed down throughout the year to these depraved individuals, who subjected vulnerable young children to unthinkable sexual and physical abuse.
“Child sexual exploitation is abhorrent and is one of the most important challenges facing the police.
"Safeguarding the vulnerable and protecting victims is West Yorkshire Police’s top priority. It is totally unacceptable and it is the responsibility of all agencies, communities and individuals to identify those responsible and help bring them to justice.
“However unwilling victims may be initially to engage with police or other agencies, or to give evidence against the perpetrators, they will always be supported, listened to and protected from further harm.
“West Yorkshire Police, the West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and partner agencies are committed to doing everything they possibly can to ensure that children are safe, cared for and protected from harm.
"We are committed to working closely with these partners and will take positive action against those who abuse or neglect children.
“I hope the outcomes of these trials will enable the victims to start the process of putting this trauma behind them and reassure any other potential victims that we will treat them with the utmost respect and sensitivity and take positive action against perpetrators.”
Michael Quinn, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "This case involved the cynical exploitation of a number of young girls by a group of older men in the Huddersfield area.
"These men deliberately targeted their vulnerable victims, grooming and exploiting them for their own sexual gratification.
"The men sometimes used threats and violence and plied their victims with alcohol or drugs. Throughout the years of offending, these men cared only for themselves and viewed these girls as objects to be used and abused at will.
“This series of prosecutions has been the result of two years’ close collaboration between West Yorkshire Police and the CPS.
"The evidence, reviewed by the CPS following an intensive and complex police investigation, included hours of detailed victim evidence against a large number of potential suspects, relating to numerous allegations over six years.
“At the heart of this case are the victims, who have all suffered trauma as a result of their childhood abuse at the hands of these men. Each of them has shown immense courage in coming forward to assist the investigation and support the prosecution case.
“I sincerely hope the convictions of their abusers today will go some way to helping these young women to rebuild their lives. Our thoughts remain with them.”