Rotherham child sexual exploitation: Probe into alleged police misconduct found crimes against children “not always recorded”
A probe by a police watchdog into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the Rotherham grooming scandal found that crimes reported to the force such as sexual activity with a child were “not recorded when they should have been”.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched Operation Linden in 2014, after the Jay Report alleged that “police refused to intervene when young girls who were thought to be victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) were being beaten up and abused by perpetrators”.
Operation Linden investigated 265 separate allegations, covering the period from 1997 to 2013.
A damning report which lays out the findings has been published today (November 23).
It found “many instances where crimes were not recorded when they should have been, including reports of sexual assault or sexual activity with a child.”
There were 51 complainants, 44 of whom were survivors of abuse, involved in the investigation.
Operation Linden investigated the conduct of 47 officers: eight were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
Five have faced sanctions from management action up to a final written warning, while one hearing is still outstanding.
The report states that the IOPC “remain worried” that “despite multiple reports and recommendations, there are still areas of concern” within the force.
A 2014 inspection by the HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services), highlighted a “cause for concern”, that crimes involving vulnerable adults and children reported directly to South Yorkshire Police’s public protection department “were not all being recorded”.
The report states that the IOPC is still “concerned” that a re-inspection of crime data in 2020 found “no discernible improvement” to the issue.
The IOPC has made 12 recommendations to South Yorkshire Police, in a bid to improve the treatment of those who report abuse and ensure officers are better equipped to investigate these offences.
Recommendations include regular training for officers which includes the voices of survivors, and the creation of a forum to “identify themajor issues for policing”.
Another recommendation was for South Yorkshire Police look to make changes to their ICT system to enable officers to access information from other forces in a bid to “effectively protect and safeguard vulnerable people”.
Steve Noonan, IOPC director of major investigations, said: “Throughout Operation Linden, our priority has been the welfare of the survivors whose bravery in coming forward has enabled us to shine a light on the failings of the past.
“The complexity of these investigations – which have seen us take almost 1,000 statements, log more than 1,400 exhibits, and carry out nearly 4,000 investigative actions – is unparalleled but it was vital to explore every line of inquiry thoroughly.
“Police understanding of this type of offending has evolved significantly in recent years and we must acknowledge the efforts made to improve the way these cases are dealt with. However, there is still work to do and we have issued these recommendations to make sure lessons are learned and mistakes of the past are not repeated.”
If you have been affected by the subject of this article, please contact the Rotherham Abuse Counselling service on: 01709 835482 or at [email protected]
Rape Crisis national helpline: 0808 802 9999