Author of child sex abuse report in fresh claims about South Yorkshire Police

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A report on the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in South Yorkshire was seen by around 90 people in 2006, it has been claimed.

Dr Angie Heal, who was a drugs analyst for South Yorkshire Police at the time, claims high-ranking officers in South Yorkshire Police were among those who were forwarded copies of her report.

The report was also sent to different agencies involved with the protection of children.

“There were two in Sheffield and one in Rotherham at that time, and it went to two officers, senior officers within the senior command team of South Yorkshire Police,” she told the BBC’s Panorama programme.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the force’s failure to act.

At least 42 South Yorkshire police officers are being investigated.

Med Hughes, South Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable at the time the 2006 report was distributed around the force, told MPs last year that he had not seen Dr Heal’s reports and had had ‘no understanding of the scale and the scope of the problems that have come to light’.

An independent report commissioned by Rotherham Council and published last year revealed 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 while authorities turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders - largely men of Pakistani heritage.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said issues around child sexual exploitation were the subject of investigations by South Yorkshire Police, the National Crime Agency and Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“South Yorkshire Police is in a very different position now to where we were just a few years ago. That’s not to say we are getting everything right but a review co-ordinated by the NCA said officers working on current investigations are ‘conscientious, enthusiastic and focused upon providing good outcomes’ and the force’s current strategic leadership of this critical area of public protection was found to be ‘professional and appropriate,’ the spokeswoman added.

“We’ve now increased the size of the team dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation from nine people in 2012/2013 to 74.

“The force has commissioned the NCA to carry out an independent investigation examining criminal allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham for the period covered by the Alexis Jay Report.

“There are currently 198 live child sexual exploitation investigations being managed by South Yorkshire Police. Just last week a further 69 charges were brought in relation to one of the large non-recent abuse cases. This is in addition to the 58 people already charged with child sexual exploitation related offences.

“To further improve our approach we have worked with our partners to develop multi-agency teams in every district, which include specialist officers from public protection, council social workers, representatives from health and education and third sector agencies such as Barnardos.

“Across the county multi-agency safeguarding hubs are also being established, this enables us to share information at the earliest opportunity to work together to take all of the steps necessary to prevent harm to children including child sexual exploitation.

“We are also working with our partners to strengthen the support offered to victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner has established a Victims and Survivors Panel to discuss their experiences of South Yorkshire Police and partner agencies. This information is used by the force to develop staff and their handling of the victims of sexual crime in particular child sexual exploitation.

“We also work closely with a number of agencies including Rape Crisis, the Independent Sexual Violence Advocates and those advocates specifically working with children, along with our health colleagues including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre to ensure the victims have a full range of options to support them.”