The National Crime Agency are to expand their investigations into child sexual exploitation in South Yorkshire after reviewing current police operations.
The NCA are take over the running of one of the three operations they have examined, as well as overseeing other relevant investigations by the force.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said the three operations relate to historic allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and Sheffield and involve ‘large numbers of potential victims and potential offenders’.
The work of ‘Operation Mark’ will now be integrated into the NCA’s soon-to-be-launched Operation Stovewood, which was originally due to concentrate on historic cases of abuses in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
It follows its review team making 48 recommendations to South Yorkshire Police for how it could improve the way it deals with child grooming investigations.
NCA Director Trevor Pearce, the officer in overall charge of Operation Stovewood, said: “A review of these three investigations has identified improvements that need to be made at both strategic and operational level.
“Many of the issues identified by the review team have already been addressed by the force or work is in hand to do so.
“I have discussed the recommendations with South Yorkshire Police and I am confident that we now have a foundation from which to deliver a set of consistent, victim-focused and coordinated investigations to identify, disrupt and bring to justice those responsible for harming vulnerable individuals in Rotherham within the period covered by the Alexis Jay Report. South Yorkshire Police has already made a number of arrests in relation to these matters and other offenders who believe that their past actions will never catch up with them should think again.”
Following the review report, all relevant South Yorkshire Police investigations will now be coordinated under Operation Stovewood. But two of them, Operations Clover and Monroe, will still be managed independently by South Yorkshire officers.
Mr Pearce said: “South Yorkshire Police has been open and transparent with the investigation team and there is a joint determination between the force and the NCA to use all available resources and expertise to protect local communities and bring offenders to justice.”
South Yorkshire Police requested that the NCA carried out an independent investigation following the Jay report finding that at least 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused over a 16-year-period.
Chief Constable David Crompton said the force has made ‘significant progress’ in tackling child grooming.