Victims as young as 11 were groomed and trafficked across the north of England by gangs of men, mainly of Pakistani heritage, with the police and local council failing to address the problem for fear of being labelled racist.
Further shocking cases were later uncovered in towns across the country, including Rochdale, Bradford, Oxford, Telford and Newcastle.
But despite major investigations being launched in order to bring the perpetrators to court, those working with victims insist they are still being denied justice.
In one case being handled by The Maggie Oliver Foundation, a woman who was abused from the age of 13 claims she is still being targeted by the same gang.
She said her abusers have sent her photographs of her family members threatening to harm them if she does not comply with their demands.
When she raised the case with police she said she was dismissed and at one point even branded a “prostitute”.
Elsewhere, a group of survivors came forward to the foundation in 2021 after their case was closed by police.
They had a significant amount of evidence, including phone messages and photographs of injuries inflicted by the perpetrators, which they had also shared with the detectives, but this was not considered enough to charge the suspected rapists. The case has since been reopened.
Mrs Oliver said far from this being a problem of the past, the grooming gangs were still operating without fear of being brought to justice.
She said: “Child sexual abuse and exploitation by ‘grooming gangs’ is a current problem. We see through our work at The Maggie Oliver Foundation that, if anything, these gangs are getting more sophisticated in their tactics and the problem more widespread.
“Access to mobile phones and apps like Snapchat makes young girls so much more accessible to these criminals.
“It’s so important that the public are aware of this so they can spot the signs and we can keep the pressure on police and statutory services to take these crimes seriously and protect those at risk from these dangerous men.”
Grooming Gangs: Britain’s Shame is broadcast on Saturday at 8pm on GB News