National Crime Agency probe into Rotherham child sex abuse scandal set to take years
The National Crime Agency probe into the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal is set to continue for ‘several years to come’.
The top level investigation was launched in response to an independent report by Professor Alexa Jay, who was asked to look at the issue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and discovered that 1,400 children had been abused by men of predominantly Pakistani heritage over a 16-year period while those in authority failed to act.
South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council were criticised for their failings.
The NCA launched Operation Stovewood in 2014 to investigate historic cases and so far 180 arrests have been made, with a warning of more to come.
Senior investigating officer Philip Marshall said: “Given the scale of the investigation, further suspects are being identified on a regular basis and therefore further arrests can be expected in the future.”
Twenty offenders have been convicted so far and between them are serving sentences totalling around 250 years.
Another four suspects are charged and awaiting trial.
The NCA has revealed that as part of Operation Stovewood there are around 40 active investigations under way, with more than 600 victims spoken to.
Mr Marshall said: “This is a priority area for Operation Stovewood as Professor Alexis Jay’s independent inquiry detailed that at least 1,400 children had been subjected to serious sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
“Our experience is showing that new victims, not previously known to service providers, are still coming forward and we very much welcome this.
“Operation Stovewood has a victim focused approach and we continue to encourage all victims to come forward and speak to us in confidence. We, and our partners, will work with them to ensure that appropriate support measures are in place.”
Funding for the investigation and 200 members of staff comes from The Home Office and South Yorkshire Police, with the bill running into millions so far.
There are plans to recruit another 50 people because of the scale of the investigation.
Mr Marshall added: “There is no formal date set for the end of the operation, and given the importance of the work to be done, it will continue for several years to come. The treatment and support to the last victim is as important as the support to the first and it is incumbent on us all to ensure that is the case.
“It is important to recognise that this type of exploitation is not limited to Rotherham or South Yorkshire, it happened and continues to happen in communities up and down the UK. Offenders will continue to seek opportunities to offend against vulnerable children and adults, and any concerns any of us have regarding exploitation happening now, whether within a physical or on-live situation, should be reported to the appropriate agency as soon as possible to ensure that effective protection can be implemented.
“Where we find evidence of offences committed outside of our terms of reference we engage directly with the relevant police force or agency to ensure an appropriate response.”