Sheffield ‘no different’ to Rotherham over child sexual exploitation failures

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings at home in Sheffield
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Assurances that child grooming cases were dealt with better in Sheffield than in Rotherham were ‘not true’, police commissioner Alan Billings has said.

Dr Billings told The Star he had been told Sheffield was ‘different’ to Rotherham after he took office in the wake of the town’s child sexual exploitation scandal.

But he said today that new allegations last week about abuse cases in Sheffield show this was ‘not true’.

A BBC investigation revealed details about more than 200 potential victims in Sheffield and over 320 perpetrators suspected of carrying out abuse mainly between 2007 and 2010.

It found that in most cases there was no evidence police took action.

Dr Billings announced plans for a new inquiry into South Yorkshire Police in light of the revelations.

He said he first considered the idea of an inquiry when he became police commissioner in November after the Rotherham grooming scandal resulted in the resignation of his predecessor Shaun Wright.

He added: “I was assured by the police and the local authority that things had been different in Sheffield.

“Now we know that is not true.”

Dr Billings said he hopes to appoint someone to carry out the independent investigation before the General Election.

He said he hopes the inquiry can be completed within months and terms of reference are currently being drawn up.

He said since his announcement of an inspection in light of the new allegations, a number of people have come forward to him, including at least one former police officer.

Dr Billings said he will be meeting those who have contacted him in the near future.

He said: “The revelations that things happened in Sheffield comparable to Rotherham shook everybody’s confidence.

“We are looking at who is the appropriate person to do the investigation or what is the appropriate body.

“We need a figure who carries some credibility in the community. We have got to restore public confidence.

“The chief constable welcomed it and when we made the announcement he supported it and recognises it became inevitable as the Sheffield revelations were made.”