A CSE survivor called for a public inquiry into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of child exploitation after a new report revealed officers were failing to record suspects’ ethnicities years after the Rotherham grooming scandal broke.
An intelligence report reportedly seen by the Times newspaper revealed that in two-thirds of cases recorded in 2019, key details about suspects’ backgrounds had not been recorded.
The Times said internal documents showed officers in all four South Yorkshire Police districts had failed to record details.
Its report came just two months after the Independent Office for Police Conduct highlighted how some officers were still failing to record possible crimes, including potential offences of sexual assault or sexual activity with a child.
A Rotherham CSE survivor, known as Elizabeth, demanded a far-reaching fresh investigation into the force.
“We need a public enquiry held to see what these police forces are actually doing and the depth of the failings,” she said.
“It seems a weekly occurrence that it comes out in the media that they’ve done something else they shouldn’t have.
“Everywhere I go and any form you fill in, it asks for that (ethnicity) so why are they any different?
“They say they are improving but I’ve heard it all before. They are not correctly profiling offenders or recording offences so they are not helping the children that need it.”
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion described the failure to record ethnicity as “illogical”, adding: “It’s a characteristic, much as a limp, tattoo or hair colour when you’re creating an offender profile.”
Home secretary Priti Patel vowed to make it compulsory for police forces to record the ethnicity of suspects and threatened “the strongest possible action” against forces failing to comply.
South Yorkshire Police said in a statement that it had “taken strides” since 2019 “to improve the quality of the data we hold”.
They added: “We are already seeing increased ethnicity recorded in our 2020 CSE problem profile.
“There is an ongoing drive to improve data quality across the force, including both IT fixes and enhanced training for officers and staff.
“We fully comply with the requirements of the Home Office and will continue to do so should changes be introduced.”
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber added: “Our understanding of this type of offending has developed considerably since the time of the Jay Report.
“We now have dedicated CSE teams which work closely with partner agencies to proactively investigate this type of crime.
“The response to complex crimes such as CSE has to be a journey of continuous improvement, and as a force we will not stand still in continuing to review and further improve our response.”
The Times revealed it had been trying for more than a year to access the document which formed the basis of its report but this had only been released — heavily redacted — following a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s office.
He said the decision had been taken not to release SYP’s CSE “problem profile” due to its nature and the “sensitive information” it contained, with concerns that revealing the contents “has the potential to impede our policing response and in particular allows offenders to modify their offending behaviour”.