Rotherham child sexual exploitation: “Wrong to suggest” council and police are not safeguarding children, says PCC

South Yorkshire Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner have reassured the public that they “act on every piece of intelligence” about child sexual exploitation, after Rotherham Conservative councillors called police response to information “lacking”.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 5:52 pm

Councillors from all sides of the political spectrum united to unanimously accept a notice of motion to acknowledge the “true scale” of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham during a full council meeting yesterday (November 10).

Last week, Rotherham Conservatives released a bombshell report, alleging that councillors has found “multiple examples of active grooming and CSE in multiple locations across Rotherham” – seven years after the Jay Report estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Following last night’s meeting, T/Superintendent Andy Wright from South Yorkshire Police and Dr Alan Billings, the Police and Crime Commissioner, reasured the public that action is being taken to tackle CSE, and encouraged members of the public to continue to report it.

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Alan Billings.

T/Superintendent Andy Wright said: “We have never denied that CSE is a problem in Rotherham. It remains a problem here as it does across the country.

“There is no shying away from this. In recent years we have reconstructed our teams to ensure we have specialist officers dedicated to investigating CSE reports.

“We have also carried out extensive training to partners, businesses and our officers so they understand the signs to look for at every incident they attend.

“Our past failings and the subsequent criticism we faced has resulted in us now being in a strong and knowledgeable position when it comes to addressing CSE.​

“This is a complex crime and cannot be tackled overnight. We need people to come to us and report information and concerns.

“We may not be seen to publicly act on every piece of intelligence, but we do it act on it along with our partners.

“Every detail forms part of a bigger picture which enables us to identify patterns, perpetrators and potential victims. Trust can’t be rebuilt overnight, but the support of the public is vital in our efforts to investigate CSE and identify and protect victims.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The final resolution of the council was helpful and constructive.

“By asking the Safeguarding Partnership to consider the report in a three month timescale allows for it to be done constructively and without politicising it, which is important.

“In addition. I would be happy to meet with the relatively newly elected conservative members along with South Yorkshire Police officers, to explain to them in detail the work that is being done both proactively and reactively to tackle CSE in Rotherham.

“This work is a partnership involving organisations other than the police, which is why police and social workers are co-located in Riverside, the council offices on Main Street.

“There will always be those who seek to prey on vulnerable children in Rotherham, in South Yorkshire and across the country.

“But it would be quite wrong to suggest that the police and local authority are not focussed on safeguarding children, because they are.

“I want the conservative councillors to meet some of those officers and hear the passion with which they talk about their work.

“We do no service at all to victims and their families if we suggest for one moment that they will not be listened to and helped.”

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, please contact trained counsellors on the 24 hour helplines run by Childline on 0800 11 11 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.