New inquiry into South Yorkshire Police will consider findings of 2003 and 2006 reports

Reverend Dr Alan Billings
Reverend Dr Alan Billings
0
Have your say

Crime commissioner Alan Billings has promised the findings of Angie Heal will be looked at as part of a planned inquiry into South Yorkshire Police.

Dr Billings ordered the independent inquiry into the force’s handling of child sexual exploitation in March after a BBC investigation found the force had details of more than 320 suspected abusers in Sheffield between 2007 and 2010 - but failed to act.

Two senior officers from the time in Sheffield have been referred to the IPCC, in addition to the 42 past and present officers referred to the watchdog over the handling of cases in Rotherham.

Dr Billings said: “The first reason I am commissioning an inspection of South Yorkshire Police is to ensure that their response now to child sexual exploitation, captures all the issues raised in all previous reports and investigations, including those by Angie Heal. The second reason is to be satisfied that the response has been adequate across all districts, not simply Rotherham.

“The terms of reference are currently being drawn up so that I will be in a position to discuss them with the new Home Secretary after the General Election. We are doing this with great care so as to avoid repeating work that has already been undertaken or overlapping with what is currently being done by the National Crime Agency.

“I am also considering carefully who might lead this inspection. I have already said that I want someone in whom the public will have confidence and who will do a thorough but speedy job.”

South Yorkshire Police said today it has ‘admitted to past failings in the way it handled child sexual exploitation’ - but added ‘significant progress’ has been made

A spokeswoman for the force said: “There has been a significant increase in the number of police officers and staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation and we are absolutely committed to achieving justice, stopping the harm and preventing future offending.

“We have centralised the team of officers involved in ongoing investigations into non-recent allegations of sexual exploitation, some of these investigations are large scale and involve large numbers of potential victims and potential offenders.

“A number of arrests have been made in relation to these investigations and we continue to make frequent arrests of individuals we believe may be involved in child sexual exploitation when we find them in the company of a vulnerable young person and also as part of ongoing investigations.

“South Yorkshire Police has referred a number of complaints to the IPCC in relation to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

“A referral to the IPCC has also been made in relation a complaint about the force’s handling of child sexual exploitation in Sheffield.

“We remain committed to assisting them with their independent investigation into any alleged misconduct.”

Meanwhile, Sheffield Council has said Dr Heal’s reports were never ‘officially presented’ to them.

A spokesman said: “Child sexual exploitation is a challenge nationally and locally as we have previously stated. It is a dreadful and sad crime. Sheffield has been publishing annual reports for a number of years detailing this and how the Sheffield Safeguarding Children’s Board were tackling the issue.

“But our own internal review carried out following the Jay report, has shown that we recognised the issue and have given a great deal of importance to tackling it and have in fact been pioneering in our approach. The independently authored report highlighted our ‘open culture’ around child sexual exploitation and ‘a history and documented evidence of being willing to tackle and confront difficult issues.’

“To be clear, we continue to use every tool at our disposal to tackle child sexual exploitation and will never be complacent. We support the Police and Crime Commissioner’s decision for a review into how South Yorkshire Police have responded to child sexual exploitation.”