SARAH CHAMPION MP STATEMENT ON OPERATION CLOVER VERDICT

Today's verdicts are an important step forward, and most of all, a testament to the bravery of the victims who had the courage to report their abuse. For years, indeed decades, the victims and survivors kept coming forward to report the horrific crimes they endured, but they were not heard. Most people would have given up, but these women persevered, not wanting another child to suffer as they did.

Child sexual abuse is a despicable crime. It destroys childhoods, family networks and the mental torture lives on into adulthood. I hope today's verdict will be the first step for the survivors to rebuild their lives and become the empowered women they were destined to be.

As a society we need to do more to prevent child sexual exploitation. It is happening in every town, village and city. It is not enough to only secure prosecutions because that means a child's life has already been destroyed. We need to remember that for many victims and survivors, seeing their perpetrators face justice is still a goal yet to be realised, that must be addressed.

In Rotherham, we must continue to be united in dealing with these horrendous crimes and be unwavering in rooting out child abuse and keeping our children safe.

Most of all, as a society, we need to take child Abuse out of the shadows and make sure everybody has the tools to tackle it and take responsibility for protecting our children. I for one will keep campaigning until that is a reality.

NewsVanessa Johns