South Yorkshire’s crime commissioner has suggested some police officers under investigation in relation to the Rotherham abuse scandal may have been ‘falsely accused’.
Alan Billings told a meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel there had been ‘intolerable’ delays in the Independent Police Complaints Commission making decisions about allegations against officers in relation to the scandal.
The IPCC has recently announced it is now involved in 55 ongoing investigations into allegations about how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham - after a two-month trial heard allegations of collusion between officers and offenders.
Among the complaints being examined is alleged corruption by police officers, as well as failures to act on reports of child abuse.
Rotherham councillor Emma Wallis said confidence levels in the police had ‘decreased significantly’ and asked whether allegations highlighted in the recent trial may make this worse.
Dr Billings said it was important the IPCC’s investigations are concluded - so some individuals can be held to account but also to allow others to be ‘exonerated’.
He said: “The public of Rotherham - and South Yorkshire as a whole - need to know that anybody who turned a blind eye and failed to do their duty in the past is brought to book.
“As far as the IPCC goes, there have been complaints made about incidents and some particular officers. They have been with the IPCC for two years and we still haven’t heard from those any satisfactory resolution.
“That is intolerable, we need to know who those are who need to be taken to task for misconduct but we also need to know who should be exonerated who has been falsely accused. That is unfair that hangs over them.
“We press them all the time to bring this to a resolution.”
A spokesman for the IPCC said: “These are complex investigations dealing with a significant number of complainants and police officers, and allegations relating to events that spanned a number of years.
“A number of the victims we are dealing with are also giving evidence in ongoing criminal investigations being conducted by South Yorkshire Police and the National Crime Agency.
“We are handling these matters sensitively and ensuring our investigations are thorough and coordinated, as that is what all parties want from any of the investigations into these matters.”
The IPCC is currently examining over 190 allegations made by 41 complainants in relation to the scandal, with 102 of the complaints relating to officers who are yet to be identified.