Rotherham sex abuse survivor wants royal pardon for crimes

A victim of a child grooming gang in Rotherham has called for royal pardons for all people who got criminal records while being abused.

Sammy Woodhouse was just 14 years old when she was targeted and during the years of the abuse that followed she went on to commit many crimes.

She told Sky News police treated her like a criminal rather than a victim when she came forward.

"I'm asking for a royal pardon for myself and for all survivors all over the country ... asking for our criminal records to be wiped," Ms Woodhouse said.

"I'm 31 years old and I still have a criminal record from being groomed as a child. I feel like I'm still being blamed.

"I think there's a lot of survivors out there in the country that want to come forward but that are scared, they're scared that they're going to be prosecuted themselves."

Ms Woodhouse said the crimes she committed while an abuse victim could have seen her jailed for more than a full-life sentence.

"When my solicitor looked at all the criminal things I'd done, some of it I'd already been charged with, some of it I hadn't, I could've been looking, if found guilty and caught, at 102 years in prison.

"It's a very daunting thing and it's something that could have prevented me from coming forward. I want other people to come forward and report their abuse ... and this is preventing them from doing that."

Ms Woodhouse said the nature of some of the offences she committed is also limiting her chances of moving on.

"On my record there's assault, possession of dangerous weapons, I was involved in burglaries, drug dealing, a lot of very serious things. A lot of that the police didn't know about until I came forward in 2013 and told them.

"The things that are on my criminal record at the moment actually make me a risk to other people, makes me a danger to them and I think that's really unfair, the fact that I'm still being blamed for my own abuse."

By coming forward she has waived her right to anonymity, but it is something she does not regret.

"I felt up until yesterday when I waived it (anonymity) that I'd been living in the shadows of my abuser, and that he's still been controlling my life.

Six members of the grooming and abuse gang - four men and two women - were found guilty of a host of offences involving the sexual exploitation of girls in Rotherham after a trial in February last year.

Three brothers, Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain - were charged with more than 70 offences committed over a 16-year period from 1987 but, even after three official reports, the affair is far from over.

The investigation into police misconduct over the scandal has implicated more than 90 current and former South Yorkshire Police officers - with some potentially facing criminal charges.