Watchdog probe into police response to historic child sexual abuse in Rotherham nears conclusion

A watchdog probe into South Yorkshire Police’s response to historic child sexual abuse in Rotherham is drawing to a close.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 15 May, 2019, 10:39
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The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s probe, known as Operation Linden, has led to 91 independent investigations being launched, with 64 – more than 70 per cent – now complete.

The IOPC started investigating the way South Yorkshire Police handled historic allegations of child sex abuse and exploitation following the publication of an independent report by Professor Alexis in 2014, which found that 1,400 children were abused by men of predominantly Pakistani heritage between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority failed to act.

The watchdog’s next step is to share all of the completed investigation reports with South Yorkshire Police for the force to respond.The IOPC said it is continuing to analyse the evidence gathered so far about the actions carried out by South Yorkshire Police’s senior command team after allegations that the force received reports highlighting the abuse being carried out in Rotherham.

The watchdog said that, as yet, no current or former officers have been served with notices that their conduct is under investigation as part of that specific investigation.

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But there are 13 officers under investigation in connection to other allegations.IOPC Director for Major Investigations, Steve Noonan, said: “We are pleased that Operation Linden continues to make good progress.

“This operation is unprecedented in terms of size, scope and sensitivity and we still continue to receive referrals of complaints made by survivors.

“I would like to thank all those involved, especially the survivors of the horrific abuse they suffered, for their patience and understanding while we finalise our investigations. “To protect the integrity of this operation, and due to its sensitivities, we will not provide ongoing comment about the progress of each individual investigation, or any potential conduct matters. However, the people directly affected by our investigations are kept regularly updated.

“At the appropriate time, we will produce an over-arching report that pulls together all of the findings, outcomes and learning from Operation Linden. “Our ultimate aim is to ensure that all those affected can be confident that their complaints have been comprehensively investigated, and for South Yorkshire Police and indeed all forces across the country to learn from our findings.” Operation Linden is the second largest independent investigation ever conducted by the IOPC, the largest being the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster.

The evidence being compiled and reviewed by the Operation Linden team dates back to the early 1990s and so far, the team has reviewed 19,345 documents, logged 1,334 exhibits and processed 838 statements.

Running alongside the IOPC probe are investigations by the National Crime Agency into criminality connected to historic child abuse and exploitation in Rotherham.

So far, over 410 victims have been spoken to and 94 suspects have been arrested or interviewed by appointment.