Column: Dedication and determination

South Yorkshire Police new Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
South Yorkshire Police new Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
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You may have heard of further successful convictions in relation to historic child sexual abuse in Rotherham.

Six men were sent to prison on February 2 for a total of 81-and-a-half years for the abuse of two girls in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

This is the third large trial relating to historic CSE investigations in Rotherham over the last 12 months.

Across the three trials 19 people have been imprisoned for a total of 279 years.

It is right that we refrain from triumphalism around such results given the legitimate criticism of our past record around CSE.

However, I feel it is important that I highlight these results as part of reassuring you, the public of South Yorkshire, that in 2017 South Yorkshire Police is in a different place in terms of our approach to CSE and the way we investigate these matters.

Not only do we know how to deal with these complex cases, we deal with them well and I would like to commend the dedication and determination of DCI Martin Tate and his team.

We have been supported tremendously by the Crown Prosecution Service and by local authority and third-sector partners who work closely with us and the victims.

The most important people to pay tribute to are the victims themselves, for the bravery they have exhibited in stepping forward and reliving their experiences to obtain long overdue justice. I would also like to thank them for the trust they have placed in our investigative teams.

Gun crime is a great concern to all of us. Earlier in the week we reported that a young man had been jailed for 24 years after an incident involving a firearm in the Shiregreen area of Sheffield last year, resulting in a 63- year-old man receiving life-changing injuries.

This is a significant sentence and one that I hope sends a message to those who choose to carry a gun.

I also hope it carries a message to the residents of Sheffield about the importance we place on bringing such dangerous individuals to justice.

I would like to finish with a few words about Deputy Chief Constable Dawn Copley who retires in April after 30 years of policing. I have known Dawn for a long time as we both started our careers with Lancashire Police within a few years of each other.

She was appointed Deputy Chief of South Yorkshire Police towards the end of 2015 and helped to steer the force through some very turbulent months in 2016.

Dawn has performed her service to the public over 30 years with real distinction and I wish her all the very best in her future endeavours.