Live blog: Politicians and child sex abuse survivors react as report uncovers police failings

Follow The Star’s live blog as politicians, survivors and senior police officers respond to a damning new report into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of child sexual exploitation.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 12:47 pm
IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan
IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan

Published just minutes ago, the report from police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), under the banner of Operation Linden, looks at South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) responses to allegations of child sexual abuse and exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013.

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IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan said: “Our report shows how SYP failed to protect vulnerable children and young people. Like other agencies in Rotherham at that time, it was simply not equipped to deal with the abuse and organised grooming of young girls on the scale we encountered.”

He added that the findings of the report present an ‘opportunity right across policing’ to ‘honour survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E) by ensuring mistakes of the past are never repeated’.

Follow our live blog, as we bring you all the latest reaction to, and news about, the report which took eight years and has cost £6million to produce.

Live blog - Damning report reveals South Yorkshire Police failings over child sexual exploitation

Last updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2022, 16:44

  • New report reveals no police officers have lost their jobs over CSE
  • Dad of rape victim reportedly told by cop the sex attack would ‘teach’ her a ‘lesson'
  • Report branded ‘let down’ after failing to identify ‘any individual accountability’
  • Rotherham CSE survivor Sammy Woodhouse brands IOPC report findings “a kick in the teeth”
  • Police officer claimed girls having Asian boyfriends was 'fashion accessory,' report reveals

£6m Rotherham child abuse report branded ‘let down’ after failing to identify ‘any individual accountability’

£6m Rotherham child abuse report branded 'let down' after failing to identify 'any individual accountability'

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham have been ‘let down’ after a new report costing £6million failed to identify ‘any individual accountability’ or make any new ‘significant recommendations’.

Unhandled: H5

Dr Billings said: “I am disappointed that after eight years of very costly investigations, this report fails to make any significant recommendations over and above what South Yorkshire Police have already accepted and implemented from previous investigations some years ago.

“It repeats what past reports and reviews have shown – that there was unacceptable practice between 1997 and 2013 – but fails to identify any individual accountability.

“As a result, it lets down victims and survivors.

“It has also been unfair to those officers who have had allegations of misconduct and gross misconduct hanging over them for so long, with some of these allegations having not been substantiated. There are more officers who have been subject to this lengthy investigation where no allegations have been progressed.

Rotherham child abuse survivors share experiences of shameful treatment by police

Rotherham child abuse survivors share experiences of shameful treatment by police

The shameful way in which some victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham were treated by police has been laid bare in a new report.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct published their £6million report, examining South Yorkshire Police’s handling of allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

In the report’s foreword, IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said investigators found that officers were ‘not fully aware, or able, to deal with child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E) offences’ and showed ‘insufficient empathy’ towards survivors who were vulnerable children and young people.

The report details the experiences and views of survivors of CSE in the town. The Professor Jay report, released in 2014, concluded that failures by police and politicians contributed to the sexual exploitation of around 1,400 children in Rotherham by groups of men in the town.

One survivor, who was sexually exploited from the age of 14 told IOPC investigators they frequently went missing from home, generally to be with their older ‘boyfriend’ and came into contact with officers three or four times a week.

They said: “When I look back now, I can’t believe how many times I came into contact with the police and how many chances they had to question me…but didn’t.”

Another survivor revealed how they were told more than a dozen times that they were responsible for their behaviour for being sexually exploited and abused by grown men when they were just 13-years-old.

They said: “No matter what bad experience I was going through there was never any concern for me as a child. I don’t recall a single time when the police treated me like I was a vulnerable child. Looking back, I now realise they had ‘adult expectations’ from children regardless of a child’s age.”

Rotherham CSE survivor Sammy Woodhouse brands IOPC report findings “a kick in the teeth”

Sammy Woodhouse, who exposed the scandal by speaking to The Times newspaper in 2013, said that it “feels like no one actually cares.”

Rotherham CSE survivor Sammy Woodhouse brands IOPC report findings “a kick in the teeth”

A survivor of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham says she is “quite disgusted” by findings of a report into police handling of cases in the town.

The report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) was the result of an investigation into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Published today (June 21), the report found “significant failures” by the force, which investigators found was “not ready at that time to deal with the nature and scale of the problem in Rotherham.”

Sammy said she was “not surprised” by the report’s findings, adding that it was a “kick in the teeth” that “no professional is ever going to be held to account”.

“This is something I’ve been speaking about for 10 years, so I know that there was a failure there,” said Sammy.

“For me, it’s just a kick in the teeth that no professional is ever going to be held to account.

Police officer claimed girls having Asian boyfriends was 'fashion accessory,' report reveals

In addition to the ‘systemic’ and ‘significant’ failures outlined in the report, the IOPC has also highlighted a number of ‘missed opportunities’ to protect and safeguard children and young people and to ‘stop perpetrators’ from carrying out child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E)

The report states that some of the missed opportunities stemmed from a ‘widespread lack of awareness and professional curiosity around CSA/E’ at SYP.

Investigators co

ncluded that this resulted in the force not understanding the ‘full picture’ of CSA/E-related offences, ‘leading to missed opportunities to protect survivors and stop perpetrators’.

They also found that police officers tended to respond to incidents in isolation and failed to apply what they learned from other incidents so that ‘information and intelligence were often not acted upon’.

SYP also missed opportunities to ‘approach community leaders’ to ask for their views on how to identify any actions the force could take to help tackle CSA/E, the report states.

Investigators found that this was despite the fact there ‘was clearly some awareness amongst frontline officers of the high proportion Asian men involved in CSA/E locally’.

The IOPC says its investigators were occasionally ‘told anecdotal information about officers commenting on a CSA/E perpetrator’s race’.

Examples include a parent who told the IOPC that when they raised concerns about their daughter being missing and concerns about older men, the officer said that it was a ‘fashion accessory’ for girls in Rotherham to have an ‘older Asian boyfriend’ and that she would grow out of it.

Parent worried about child sex abuse told having Asian boyfriend was 'fashion accessory'

South Yorkshire Police officers tasked with investigating child sexual exploitation in Rotherham missed ‘many opportunities’ to safeguard children and ‘stop perpertrators,’ a new report has found.

‘We saw examples of SYP seeing children and survivors as consenting to their exploitation’

In the report’s forward, IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said investigators found that officers were ‘not fully aware, or able, to deal with child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E) offences’ and showed ‘insufficient empathy’ towards survivors who were vulnerable children and young people.

“We saw examples of SYP seeing children, and young people, as ‘consenting’ to their exploitation, and a police culture that did not always recognise survivors as victims, or understand that, often, neither did those being groomed and abused,” Mr Lockwood said.

He added: “Survivors’ complaints reveal they were not always believed when reporting what had happened to them and this has had a lasting impact on their lives and their trust and confidence in the police.”

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