National Crime Agency probe into child sex abuse in Rotherham could continue for years

The multi-million pound investigation into the sexual exploitation of over 1,400 children in Rotherham could continue for years.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 07:12 am
Updated Thursday, 29th August 2019, 07:27 am

As six more men were yesterday found guilty of sex attacks on teenage girls in the town, The National Crime Agency said its inquiry will continue until as many potential victims as possible have been contacted.

A jury at Sheffield Crown Court found the men guilty of 20 different counts relating to the exploitation of seven teenagers in Rotherham more than a decade ago.

L-R: Masaued Malik and Sharaz Hussain

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Aftab Hussain, aged 40, Abid Saddiq, 38, Masaued Malik, 35, Sharaz Hussain, 35 and two men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were prosecuted after an investigation by the National Crime Agency as part of Operation Stovewood, which is looking at historic sex abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

The NCA launched the probe after an independent report found that 1,400 children were sexually exploited by men of predominantly Pakistani heritage while those in authority failed to act.

L-R: Abid Saddiq and Aftab Hussain

Over 1,500 victims have now been identified, with 313 spoken to 190 suspects identified.

Yesterday’s convictions brings the total number under Operation Stovewood so far to 20.

During the latest trial, jurors heard how girls were targeted due to their vulnerability and were given alcohol and drugs before some were raped by multiple men.

Violence was sometimes used to ensure they complied.

Asked how many years the Operation Stovewood is expected to run for, the NCA’s regional head of investigations, Rob Burgess, said: "Putting a time on it is not right, it's not fair in those circumstances.

"This is about pursuing the investigation to a point where, effectively, we've no longer got any victims that we can deal with.

"And, in reality that will take as long as it does.

"I would say that we are very conscious of the cost of an investigation like this and we are very careful about how we proceed."

Operation Stovewood is the largest child sexual exploitation and abuse inquiry in the UK.

Aftab Hussain was found guilty of two indecent assault charges.

Saddiq was found guilty of two counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and two counts of child abduction.

Malik was found guilty of three indecent assaults.

Sharaz Hussain was found guilty of four indecent assaults.

One of the defendants who cannot be named was found guilty of two indecent assaults and the other found guilty of one indecent assault and two counts of child abduction.