NINE investigations into South Yorkshire Police officers’ handling of child sex abuse in Rotherham have concluded the officers involved have “no case to answer” despite finding “significant failings”.
But police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said 91 serving and retired officers were still under investigation over their handling of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the town.
Deputy chairwoman of the IPCC, Rachel Cerfontyne, said some of the investigations were of a criminal nature and some were for misconduct.
Some officers, she added, had been suspended by the force.
Ms Cerfontyne said she wanted to reassure CSE victims that although the multiple police officers involved in the first nine investigations had not been found guilty of misconduct, they could still be part of 53 other ongoing investigations.
“Although we found no misconduct, we have found significant failings — so we are not saying what happened was right,” she added.
“Learning recommendations” have also been made to South Yorkshire Police “concerning the recording of information and the retention of archived materials”.
The deputy chairwoman said reports on the first nine investigations could not be made public because many of the cases were still linked to its ongoing work, but a final report would be made public once the entire operation was complete.
The IPCC investigation, dubbed Operation Linden, spans from the mid 1990s to 2013 and had cost into the “early end of the millions” at present.
Ms Cerfontyne said she hoped a “substantial amount” of its work would be finished this year.
The IPCC investigation into Rotherham CSE is, after Hillsborough, the second largest operation the IPCC has ever undertaken.
Allegations covered as part of it include failure to act, through to corruption.
There are currently:
- 211 individual allegations made by 40 complainants.
- Out of the 91 police officers who have been identified, 30 officers have been placed under notice to inform them they are subject to investigation.
- There are still 120 allegations relating to officers who have yet to be identified.
- The team is reviewing 6,135 documents; has logged 357 exhibits; conducted 40 individual interviews and obtained 238 statements.
- 25 staff, including 14 investigators, as well as additional support from across the IPCC make up the team.
Ms Cerfontyne added: “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.
“I want to take this opportunity to offer reassurance that the IPCC has a specialist, dedicated team that is working extremely hard to conclude these complex investigations.
“This mirrors the approach we have taken with the Hillsborough investigation.
“Some of the emerging themes reflect the concerns raised in the Jay Report. These include findings relating to leadership, crime reporting and intelligence, as well as attitudes towards survivors and suspected offenders, and the ineffectiveness of police engagement with other agencies.
“The IPCC has an important part to play in highlighting how those in the public sector, across the country, dealt with complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse.
“When the investigations are concluded, we want to share our learning with all police forces to help them improve the way they deal with allegations of child sexual exploitation and abuse.”