South Yorkshire child abuse probe finds 'serious failings' but no police misconduct

Alexis Jay published a report into child sexual exploitation in 2014
Alexis Jay published a report into child sexual exploitation in 2014
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The police watchdog looking into the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham has found 'significant failings' in nine cases but no evidence of officer misconduct.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it has identified 'significant failings' in the way victims of abuse and alleged perpetrators were treated.

The IPCC is looking at allegations involving 91 named police officers in the biggest inquiry it has undertaken outside its investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster.

So far, nine out of 62 individual investigations into alleged misconduct over a 16-year period have so far been completed.

Ms Cerfontyne said in each of the nine cases the commission had concluded there was no case to answer in relation to officers' conduct.

But she said failings relating to information sharing between agencies, around police leadership and the attitude towards victims and alleged perpetrators.

She said: "In the investigations that we've completed, what we've found is significant failings.

"Those failings that are coming out of those investigations are relating to information sharing amongst the agencies; around the leadership, culture, attitude towards the survivors and to the alleged perpetrators.

"What we're finding is not sufficient resourcing and prioritisation going into this area of work.

"But what we haven't found on the nine that we've finished is any misconduct."

Ms Cerfontyne also said the commission was determined to make sure the investigation did not simply 'scapegoat' junior officers.

She said the inquiry is looking at the 'bigger picture' in terms of what officers were asked to do, how they were trained and what messages they were given in terms of wider police priorities as well as individual officers' conduct.

The IPCC investigation began in November 2014, three months after Professor Alexis Jay's report concluded more than 1,400 children had been raped, groomed and trafficked in Rotherham as authorities failed to act.

The IPCC investigation has been accused of taking too long to conclude its investigations, with South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Billings, describing the length of time as 'intolerable'.

Dr Billings said: “I have said repeatedly that the length of time these investigations are taking is intolerable and unfair.

“It is intolerable for the public of South Yorkshire who need these matters to be resolved.

“It is unfair on victims who need to know that officers who have behaved badly are properly brought to book.

“It is unfair on officers who have done no wrong and have had this hanging over them for so long. This is a denial of natural justice.”

Ms Cerfontyne said: "It is entirely understandable that all those affected, as well as the wider public, want answers quickly and this is something we can all appreciate. However, our priority has to be to ensure all of the investigations are carried out rigorously and thoroughly."

She said she hoped the inquiry would be concluded by the end of the year.