Rotherham abuse probe ‘costing £10m a year’

Rotherham High Street
Rotherham High Street
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A massive investigation into Rotherham’s child abuse scandal is costing around £10m per year, it has been revealed.

Police commissioner Alan Billings said the National Crime Agency investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is currently involving 118 officers and costing £10 million a year.

The NCA investigation - known as Operation Stovewood - is expected to run for several years and has made a total of nine arrests to date.

The operation currently has 34 designated suspects and has prioritised making contact with 114 victims and survivors so far.

There are now 13 distinct investigations within the overall operations, eight of which are described as being ‘large-scale’.

The NCA were called in following the Jay report in August 2014 which estimated there had been at least 1,400 victims of CSE in the town between 1997 and 2013. The costs of the operation are being paid for by South Yorkshire Police.

Dr Billings said it was one of the financial burdens that a range of historical problems are placing on the force.

He repeated his frustration at the time the Independent Police Complaints Commission is taking in its investigation into the actions of officers relating to historical CSE in Rotherham.

He made the comments as he welcomed new chief constable Stephen Watson to the force.

Mr Watson is replacing suspended chief constable David Crompton, who is due to retire in November. Mr Crompton was suspended in relation to his handling of the Hillsborough inquests and verdicts.

Dr Billings said: “When we advertised for the post I wasn’t quite sure whether we’d get any applicants at all for the job.

“There have been some police forces up and down the country that have really struggled to find people. In the event, we had three deputy chief constables apply for the job - all really good, all, I’m quite sure, will be chief constables in time.

“Steve had real qualities I thought we needed in South Yorkshire.

“I think he understood our position. I think he understood some of these big issues that we have from the past that have to be dealt with. We mustn’t go into denial, we must learn proper lessons and go forward appropriately.

“And I think he also understood the fragile nature of the situation here in South Yorkshire just at this moment in time.”