South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has announced who will lead the independent review of how the county’s police force handled reports of child sexual exploitation in the past.
Professor John Drew, a former Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, has been appointed to lead the probe.
Commissioner Alan Billings announced the review earlier this year following two independent reports into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, which both revealed that authorities had turned a blind eye to the issue.
The first report, by Professor Alexis Jay, suggested that 1,400 children were abused over a 16-year period.
Commissioner Billings wants an inspection of South Yorkshire Police to ensure that everything the force was ever told about abuse is known, along with what officers did and did not do to tackle the issue.
Led by Professor Drew, the report will establish whether South Yorkshire Police and its partners understand and have acted upon the findings of previous reports and inspections into matters of child sexual exploitation.
It will also look at whether the force’s response to safeguarding children and young people has been adequate across the whole of South Yorkshire.
The review will examine whether police chiefs are driving the fight against child sexual exploitation and whether the issue is confined to Rotherham, or is county-wide?
In setting out the terms of reference for the review, Commissioner Billings has considered the scope of other ongoing investigations and inspections by the National Crime Agency, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to avoid duplication.
He said: “Since announcing this review earlier this year I have been working to determine the areas to be looked at to ensure there is no unnecessary overlap with other ongoing investigations and inspections.
“I want this review to be fast, but thorough and I want a report at the end which satisfies me that South Yorkshire Police has genuinely acknowledged and fully addressed non-recent, as well as present day, occurrences of child sexual exploitation and I want to feel certain that robust plans are in place to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again.
“Most of all I want to restore public confidence in South Yorkshire Police.
“The force has many hard-working and dedicated officers and members of staff who are tirelessly chasing an end to the sexual exploitation of young people and I need to know that these officers and staff are supported to carry out their duties to the very best of their abilities.”
The review will start in September and is expected to take three months to complete.
A report will be presented to Commissioner Billings and made public in early 2016.
Before heading up the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, which Commissioner Billings was once a board member for, Professor Drew was Director of Social Services and Housing in the London borough of Redbridge.
He trained as a social worker at Sheffield University and worked in children’s social work from 1974.
Professor Drew was awarded the CBE for services to youth justice in 2013.