Dozens of new officers are to join a massive investigation into historic child sexual exploitation in Rotherham as the probe into hundreds of suspects expands.
The National Crime Agency has announced South Yorkshire Police has agreed to fund the expansion of the current 69-strong Operation Stovewood team to 117 officers as it investigates more than 10,000 lines of enquiry.
The NCA has yet to make any arrests as part of the operation, but has now identified 29 key suspects - up from the 23 people the NCA announced in March it had prioritised - and has hundreds more ‘potential suspects’ under investigation.
There are now eight ‘specific major investigations’ under way involving 82 victims and survivors, with the NCA stating more are likely to be established.
Among the eight investigations are allegations that two ‘current or former’ Rotherham councillors were involved in child sexual exploitation.
Those allegations were referred by Louise Casey, following her damning inspection of Rotherham Council’s response to the grooming scandal.
The NCA - dubbed the British version of the FBI - is investigating historic CSE cases in the town from between 1997 and 2013, the same period covered by the Jay report which revealed there were at least 1,400 victims from Rotherham.
It has examined more than 120,000 documents from police, council and health services.
Through interviews with alleged victims, 91 serious sexual offences have been recorded so far.
As part of the work with the NCA, it has made 240 safeguarding referrals to Rotherham Council in relation to children ‘who suspects or potential suspects may have access to’.