A South Yorkshire Police detective accused of failing to investigate claims two girls had been sexually assaulted by their step-father nearly a decade ago has been given a final written warning.
Detective Constable Vivienne Rose-Bottom appeared before a misconduct hearing over the claim that in 2007 she did not conduct an investigation into the allegations and failed to protect the girls and their young brother.
We recognise that the failings identified in this case may give rise to public concern about how abuse cases are handled.Detective Superintendent David Barraclough
It happened during the period when police in South Yorkshire turned a blind eye to child sexual exploitation across the county as senior officers were focused on hitting national targets for burglary, robbery and car crime.
After a misconduct hearing panel ruled that the detective’s failings constituted gross misconduct, a final written warning was issued.
Detective Superintendent David Barraclough, who leads South Yorkshire Police’s Professional Standards Department, said: “Safeguarding the most vulnerable people, including children, is a priority for South Yorkshire Police.
“The standards of professionalism demonstrated by DC Rose-Bottom in this case were so serious that they amounted to gross misconduct.
“Families and members of the public expect us to meet the highest of standards, and it was unacceptable of DC Rose-Bottom to have failed to safeguard the alleged victims in the circumstances heard during this week’s hearing.
“We recognise that the failings identified in this case may give rise to public concern about how abuse cases are handled.
“However it is appropriate to emphasise that this case occurred in 2007 and over recent years we have undergone significant transformation and improvement in how we deal with offences of this nature.”
The detective was based at South Yorkshire Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Team in Sheffield at the time and spoke to the two alleged victims after the unit received a report from social services on February 21, 2007.
According to the force’s website: “A report was received from Social Services that ‘Miss A’ and ‘Miss B’ had been sexually assaulted by their stepfather and DC Rose–Bottom was allocated the investigation.
“DC Rose–Bottom spoke to ‘Miss A’ on 22nd February 2007 and subsequently interviewed ‘Miss B’ on 6th June 2007.
“It is then alleged that DC Rose-Bottom failed to conduct any investigation into the allegations made by ‘Miss A’ and ‘Miss B’ and allegedly failed to take any or any adequate steps to safeguard ‘Miss A’, ‘Miss B’ and their younger brother.”
The failures identified include not speaking to ‘Miss A’ on her own away from family members, and not making any enquiries with doctors or social services.
The detective was also accused of not making any enquiries after speaking to ‘Miss B’, as well as failing to submit any intelligence about the stepfather or make a referral to Social Services in June 2007.
Last year, an independent review of South Yorkshire Police’s handling of grooming cases found there was a ‘lack of interest or professional curiosity’ from most senior officers in making child sexual exploitation cases a priority during the 2000s.
This meant that in Sheffield, officers trying to deal with grooming were “seriously under-resourced” and when they asked their bosses for help, their requests “appear to have fallen on deaf ears”.
This was put down to a focus on hitting national targets at the time for burglary, robbery and car crime.
In 2014, a report by Professor Alexis Jay laid bare the full scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, where at least 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013.