THE police watchdog says its inquiry into police misconduct over child grooming and abuse in Rotherham has grown by more than half within a year.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct is now conducting 98 investigations into possible wrongdoing compared to 62 a year ago.
Forty-five investigation reports have been completed under Operation Linden and 33 current and former police officers remain under notice that they are being investigated.
Among the investigations is one into whether former South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright committed perjury when giving evidence to the home affairs select committee in 2014.
The IOPC said it would publish a full report covering all findings and allegations when the whole investigation was completed.
But a spokesman said: “We can confirm that some of the investigations concluded so far have identified potential misconduct.
“In some of the investigations where we haven’t found misconduct we have put forward interim learning recommendations, particularly around the recording of information and the retention of archived materials.”
IOPC acting deputy director of major investigations, Steve Noonan, said: “Every allegation put to us is treated sensitively and the welfare of survivors is always paramount.
“We are supporting 53 survivors and a number of complainants through a very difficult period, when they are also being asked to give evidence to the National Crime Agency to support their investigations into the terrible crimes committed in Rotherham.
“We would like to thank the survivors and everyone affected by our investigations for their patience and co-operation while we continue with this very important work.
“Operation Linden is the second largest independent investigation we have ever carried out, and both the complexities involved and the size of the task should not be under-estimated.
“We have a dedicated team of 35 investigators and support staff in place who have analysed more than 15,139 documents and pieces of evidence so far.
“We are determined that every investigation is carried out thoroughly and that every available line of enquiry is looked at in detail.
“As well as the sensitivities involved in engaging with survivors, we are also dealing with evidence that sometimes dates back to the late-1990s.
“The timeframes involved are very challenging and in a significant number of cases we are unable to identify the officers involved.
“However, even where we’ve been unable to identify officers, we will still conclude our investigations to see if any conduct or learning can be identified.
“We will publish an over-arching report, combining the outcomes of our investigations when they are all complete.
“Our aim is to not only highlight any conduct matters relating to individual officers but, crucially, to share our understanding of why such serious allegations often weren't investigated and how this can be avoided in the future.
“Ultimately, we want those affected to be confident that their complaints have been comprehensively investigated, and for South Yorkshire Police and indeed all forces across the country to learn from our findings.”
The increase in the number of investigations was due to new referrals being received from the force, and a review of the operation conducted last summer, after which some investigations were split.
The IOPC said the 45 investigations completed are at various stages of approval in line with the Police Reform Act and not all of the results had yet been shared with South Yorkshire Police.
Three of the completed investigations have been carried out by South Yorkshire Police, but were managed by the IOPC.