A WOMAN who claims she was groomed and raped while living in Worcester as a teenager has called on other victims to come forward.

Sam Herron was 13 and living in Worcester under the care of Worcestershire County Council Children's Services when she claims her ordeal took place.

Voluntarily waiving her legal right to lifelong anonymity, Miss Herron said: "I was living in Worcester in foster care and while in foster care I met a girl who was a bit older than me.

"I started going out with her regularly and I didn't know it but she was grooming me.

"Eventually we would go and meet up with this gang and that is where the abuse began.

"We would go and meet up with this group of about 20 people and we had to do whatever they told us to.

"I was sexually abused and raped a few times over the course of just four or five months."

At the time, Miss Herron was subject to a Section 20 order of the Children Act 1989, which gives the local authorities the power to provide accommodation for children without a court order when they do not have somewhere suitable to live.

Eventually she was given 28 days notice by her foster carers and left Worcester.

The ordeal left deep psychological scars, and Miss Herron said she still suffers the after-effects of the abuse.

"I have got post-traumatic stress from what happened and I am on medication to help me sleep at night because I still have flashbacks and nightmares.

"I can't even bring myself to go to Worcester anymore because it triggers all this and I can't cope.

"The only things that have got me through all this are my mum Emma and my three kids.

"All I want from telling my story is that if there are other children out there who this is happening to, that they would be encouraged to speak out and get justice.

"I know I probably won't get justice for my story but hopefully if other people come forward they can get the justice they deserve."

A spokesman for Worcestershire Children services said: "I can confirm that we worked with this young woman and her family over a period of time 2006 to 2010 to address vulnerabilities and harm when she was a child.

"The case closed in 2010 when she became an adult.

"In 2015 we undertook a review of the intervention and at that time offered additional support to her as a young adult.

"New duties were set out in legislation in the Social Work Act 2017 regarding the "Local Offer" and Corporate Parenting Responsibilities to Care Leavers.

"Legislation was further amended in February 2018 when those duties and responsibilities were extended to Care Leavers up to 25 years of age, previously this was 21 years.

"We support this change in legislation. We are now proactive in our "local offer" to care leavers and we actively seek to "keep in touch" with young adults after they have left our care to offer support and assistance in their transition to adulthood."

DCI Andy Bailey, of West Mercia Police, said: "We can confirm that the case is known to us and while we will not discuss the details, the matters were subject to a full and thorough investigation.

"Child Sexual Exploitation(CSE) cases are extremely complex, but we are absolutely committed to ensuring that anyone who has experienced these terrible crimes, either now or in the past, gets the help and support they need and wherever possible, offenders are brought to justice.

"We have specialist officers and work closely with partner agencies on these issues, and would assure anyone who comes forward that they will be treated with dignity and respect."