Column: Thoughts with terror victims

South Yorkshire Police new Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
South Yorkshire Police new Chief Constable Stephen Watson.
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My thoughts and prayers remain with those afflicted by the dreadful terrorist attack in London.

I would like to start my column in an effort to reassure you regarding our preparedness for the ongoing threat we face.

I am sure that you will have been impressed with the speed and effectiveness of the response in London and, as a former commander in the Met, I know well how prepared they are for such events, but inevitably and understandably your thoughts may turn to South Yorkshire.

By quirk of fate, we conducted a large exercise at Meadowhall three days earlier as part of a national programme testing our response to any such attack.

A large number of our officers were deployed in a scenario based upon a terror attack, in conjunction with more than 850 volunteers, partner agencies and other emergency services.

The scenario was extremely positive and useful because it tested our collective response to a major incident.

The results of the exercise will be debriefed and any lessons learned in this training environment will be used to improve and inform any future response.

I originally intended to write about this followed by an explanation of the importance of carrying out such exercises.

Clearly, given what followed on Wednesday, the explanation is sadly now not needed.

In my column last month I spoke of the sentences in the most recent Rotherham CSE trial.

At that time, another large trial into historic CSE was taking place at Sheffield Crown Court, this time relating to the grooming and sexual abuse of young girls in Sheffield between 2005 and 2011.

This has now concluded and four males and a female have been convicted of various CSE-related offences including rape.

They will be sentenced in the coming months.

At the heart of this investigation, as with the others, were the brave victims who have not only endured horrendous crimes, but have shown further courage in giving evidence and supporting our investigations.

Further extensive investigations are continuing with National Crime Agency (NCA) support under Operation Stovewood.

You will hear more about these investigations over the coming months.