CSE: 3,000 more lines of inquiry in Rotherham abuse investigation

ALMOST 3,000 more lines of inquiry and 20 further suspects have been identified in the last six months by investigators looking into child sex abuse in Rotherham, the Advertiser can reveal.

The National Crime Agency's (NCA) Operation Stovewood was set up in the wake of the Jay Report and covers from 1997 to 2013.

Prof Alexis Jay's report - published in 2014 -  said up to 1,400 children in Rotherham, mostly white girls, had been subject to exploitation and abuse during the 16-year period, mainly by men of Pakistani heritage.

NCA investigators gave an update on the progress of Operation Stovewood, which was launched four months after Prof Jay's revelations.

As of April 20, they had identified 14,055 lines of enquiry, which is up by 2,955 since the NCA's last update at the end of September.

They said there were now 58 designated suspects as of April 24 - an increase of 20 people in the same time period - and five new specific investigations with 22 now under the Operation Stovewood umbrella.

An NCA spokesman added that 276 crimes had been recorded following interviews with victims and a further 185 victims had been contacted by and were expected to be spoken to by the 115-strong NCA team.

So far, 15 people have been arrested and three charged by the NCA for non-familial child sexual exploitation offences.

Last December 2016, Riaz Makhmood (38), Sajid Ali (37) and Zaheer Iqbal (39), all from Masbrough, were charged with a total of 15 offences against a girl aged under 14 between June 1994 and June 1995.

All three defendants entered not guilty pleas on February 6 at Sheffield Crown Court and are due to stand trial on November 6 at the same court. The remaining 12 suspects remain on bail.

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