South Yorkshire Police have arrested 446 people on suspicion of child sexual offences in the 12 months since the Jay Report – with 72 arrests specifically for grooming.
The force’s district commander for Rotherham, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, says the figures are evidence police are making progress in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation.
He said: “Public confidence comes from taking things seriously.
“Ultimately they see action and support, whether support to be a witness in an investigation or for arresting those responsible and putting them before the court.
“We recognise that individuals who have been victims and survivors need support not just during a trial or investigation, but later on in life as well.
“We cannot underestimate the impact it has had, not just on the reputation of Rotherham, and the impact on victims and survivors, but South Yorkshire as a whole.
“The public tell us the way to get that confidence back is to show we take it very seriously and we are taking action to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
“We are doing that through increased awareness in the community, enhanced training and by looking at all means to secure evidence.”
At present, there are 42 current and former South Yorkshire Police officers subject to an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation over potential misconduct over the Rotherham scandal.
Chf Supt Harwin explained why the force has chosen not to pursue internal disciplinary procedures against staff.
He said: “It has gone to the IPCC to make a decision over whether people have not done what they should have done. We make an assessment with the IPCC whether we need to put those officers on restricted duties or different roles.
“We are happy at the minute that they are in positions where they can provide a good service.
“Like anyone else they are innocent until proven guilty and we therefore have to keep an open mind.
“The majority of staff are getting it right and we need to give them the confidence to get positive results.”
Rotherham Council’s director of children’s services Ian Thomas said: “There are a number of examples of very close work with police to protect children and bring offenders to justice.
“I see that commitment from the most senior level right down to officers on the beat.”
Mr Thomas said he is pleased with progress at the council.
He said: “The resilience of the workforce through the past year to ensure children receive services is something I’m heartened and humbled by.
“Ofsted will come in one day and say we are fit for purpose again - that will be another key milestone.
“I see evidence of people working better together and contributing to the vision of being an outstanding authority by 2018.
“I see heroes out there working with children and families every day, often in very, very difficult circumstances.
“I get a sense of ambition, collaboration and dedication to the cause of ensuring our children are placed at the centre of our town’s recovery going forward.”