Let's start with a riddle. If South Yorkshire Police can mount a raid on Sir Cliff Richard's home in pursuit of evidence linked to a single allegation of child sex abuse 30 years ago, why were South Yorkshire Police incapable of pursuing multiple allegations against multiple men who raped 1,400 children over 16 years?
One thousand four hundred. Consider the weight of that number, feel its tragic heft. Picture 50 junior-school classes of little girls in Rotherham, once a respectable northern town, now a byword for depravity. We have seen child-grooming cases before, but the disgusting stories revealed in the report by Professor Alexis Jay amount to evidence of abuse on an industrial scale.
Men of Pakistani heritage treated white girls like toilet paper. They picked children up from schools and care homes and trafficked them across northern cities for other men to join in the fun. They doused a 15-year-old in petrol and threatened to set her alight should she dare to report them. They menaced entire families and made young girls watch as they raped other children.