Rotherham sex abuse: Operation Stovewood police to stop taking on new cases

National Crime Agency to stop taking on new cases under Operation Stovewood investigation into Rotherham child sex abuse
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Police investigating Rotherham child sex abuse cases under Operation Stovewood have announced they are to stop taking on new cases.

Officers running the investigation, which began in 2014 and is investigating non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, say they will not take any new cases on after the end of this year.

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So far National Crime Agency officers have made more than 200 arrests and secured 26 convictions, with more than 50 active investigations ongoing under the Stovewood banner.

The National Crime Agency has announced it will take no more cases on under its Operation Stovewood investigation into Rotherham child sex abuse, from the start of 2024. Picture: National Crime AgencyThe National Crime Agency has announced it will take no more cases on under its Operation Stovewood investigation into Rotherham child sex abuse, from the start of 2024. Picture: National Crime Agency
The National Crime Agency has announced it will take no more cases on under its Operation Stovewood investigation into Rotherham child sex abuse, from the start of 2024. Picture: National Crime Agency

The agency says while it remains committed to seeing those through to the end of the criminal justice process, expected to continue into 2027, it will no longer take-up any new investigations from January 1 2024 onwards.

NCA Stovewood head of investigations Philip Marshall said: “During the course of the last nine years we have identified more than 1,100 victims and made contact with as many of those as possible.

“Some, for reasons that are entirely understandable, have decided not to engage with us. We respect their decisions.

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“We are now confident that we have done all we realistically can to identify those individuals who may have been victims during the Stovewood time period.

“As a result, from the start of 2024, the NCA will no longer open any new investigations, and any new allegations will be investigated by South Yorkshire Police.

“This does not mean we are walking away. We will continue to investigate in the cases we have already opened, and victims should know we will continue to treat them as a priority.

“We remain determined to seek justice for as many victims as possible and we will continue to work with partners including the CPS to bring as many offenders to justice as we can.”

“Both the NCA and South Yorkshire Police are determined this process should be as seamless as possible, and we’re confident that should anyone new come forward after January 1 they will still be supported in exactly the same way.”

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Last week Neil Cawton, 68, from Rawmarsh became the 26th person convicted since Stovewood began, as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of nine separate child sex abuse offences committed against four victims between 2006 and 2012.

Operation Stovewood has been the single largest law enforcement operation of its kind ever undertaken in the UK.

Those convicted so far have been handed jail sentences totalling more than 260 years.

Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Poolman, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We are grateful for the support of the NCA over the last nine years and going forward as they continue to work on the investigations already underway.

“We have embedded the learning from the Jay Report to ensure we offer a professional, compassionate and effective service to all victims and survivors.

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“HMICFRS carried out an inspection of our work in 2021/22 and found South Yorkshire Police to be outstanding at protecting vulnerable people. We have secured convictions against many perpetrators of CSE and related offences in recent years and feel confident that we can properly support victims and survivors.

“Anyone who is considering coming forward is encouraged to do so. Our prioritisation of tackling CSE continues and I assure you we will listen.”

Anyone who believes that they were a victim of child sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, or with information that might assist investigations, can email [email protected] or contact the NCA Control Centre on 0370 496 7622 quoting Operation Stovewood.