The comments come from Dr Alan Billings as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) published a report, which took eight years to produce, into South Yorkshire Police’s (SYP) handling of allegations of child sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013.
Its publication comes eight years after the bombshell report from Professor Alexis Jay in 2014 which 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, predominately of Pakistani-heritage.
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)
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.
“A great deal of time and money has been spent for few new findings or accountability.
“I am, however, pleased that the IOPC has acknowledged that South Yorkshire Police is on a path of continuous improvement.
“I know this to be true from the reports I receive from the Chief Constable and senior officers at my monthly Public Accountability Board.
“At this meeting I regularly hold the force to account, questioning officers at length and in public about the work they are undertaking around child sexual abuse and the progress they are making.
“Since 2014 South Yorkshire Police has undergone a substantial period of reflective learning and transformation. It has made significant progress in the areas identified in this and other
reports and this has been most recently acknowledged in the independent report produced by Jenny Myers for Rotherham Council last month.
“The force today, and the way it investigates these types of crime, is very different from the force that was found wanting by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014.
“It is part of my job to ensure that South Yorkshire Police remains on that path of continuous improvement, to work to prevent abuse happening in the first place, and, where there are victims, to give them all the support they need.”