South Yorkshire Police’s district commander for Rotherham Jason Harwin has explained why the force has not opted to internally discipline its staff over the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal.
In an interview with The Star, Chief Superintendent Harwin said that the force is leaving the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating at least 42 officers who were allegedly involved in letting down victims of the abuse scandal in Rotherham.
Watch the video above - here is a transcript of the part of the interview relating to the IPCC investigation:
Q.What is happening with the IPCC investigation?
“It’s independent so it’s not for SYP to give detail. There are a number of individuals who have been referred, we are supporting that investigation, but it’s probably for the IPCC to give an update as it’s their investigation.”
Q. At Rotherham Council two leaders have stepped down, a lot of councillors have stepped down and the entire cabinet resigned. No one has stepped down at South Yorkshire Police. Why?
A. “That’s why it has gone to the IPCC to make a decision over whether people have not done what they should have done.
“That’s quite a detailed investigation, clearly they need to make sure it’s a transparent and efficient investigation. Clearly if people have not done what they should have done, they will be held to account. That could impact on the individuals in the future.”
Q. Is there no interest in internal disciplinary procedures against the officers involved?
“The IPCC will pick that up. That’s their decision.”
Q. In other instances of misconduct in the force, there is usually an internal disciplinary as well. For instance there was a case a few months ago where a man died in police custody. Both officers were internally disciplined as well as being subject to an IPCC investigation. Why is it different in this case?
A. “Well I think it is ultimately the IPCC are leading that investigation. So for transparency and independence it’s quite right that we should be trying to deal with it differently.
“So that’s why the IPCC will decide.
“They have an option of referring it back to the force and the force looking at their own internal investigation. But at the minute they are dealing with all the referrals. Again in the coming months no doubt they will give an update about what’s coming back to the force to deal with or what they will deal with.”
Q. How can you restore confidence for the public when you have officers under investigation?
A. “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.
“Whilst recognising the fact that we have officers that are being investigated, and that can impact on confidence, what we are saying here is the majority of staff still get it right, and the public say that. I get letters in saying ‘thank you for the service I received’, so whilst recognising the impact that can have, we need to put it in the context of the majority are doing a very good job, are very professional and are doing what they joined the service to do.
“At the minute we have to keep an open mind in relation to the other officers that have been referred as well.”
Q. How does the fact there are officers under investigation impact staff morale?
A. “Clearly we have to make an assessment to see if it is appropriate for them to continue to deal with the things they are dealing with.
“That’s part of the conversation with the IPCC.
“What we say here is though ultimately like anyone else they are innocent until proven guilty and we therefore have to keep an open mind in terms of what’s happened because the whole facts need to be presented, and importantly from our side, they will still get suppport, and if there is wellfare concerns around it, and ultimately if we don’t feel it’s right, then clearly we will look at taking other action.
“Bearing in mind a lof of these issues are in the past, some of the individuals are no longer in South Yorkshire Police, or ultimately in very different roles, what we’re saying at the minute is the majority of staff are getting it right and therefore we need to give them the confidence that they have got the necessary skills and experience to deal with the issues that we have got and get positive impact from victims and survivors as well.”
Q. Of those 42 officers who haven’t retired or moved on, those under investigation are still actively working?
A“Well they are working in South Yorkshire Police. We make an assessment with the IPCC whether we need to put them on restricted duties or ultimately put them into different roles.
“Importantly for the public confidence we are happy at the minute that they are in positions where they can provide a good service to the public and if that wasn’t the case then we’d be taking other action.”
The Star revealed today that 446 abuse arrests have been made in the year since the Jay Report was released: 446 abuse arrests in 365 days since Jay Report