Two councillors and a police officer have been accused of taking part in the Rotherham child abuse scandal, in which 1,400 young girls were groomed and raped over the course of 16 years.
The allegations have been revealed by the Times on the same day as an independent inquiry into failings and cover ups by the local council is due to be published.
In 2012, documents leaked from Rotherham council revealed that police officers and council staff had known for over a decade that vulnerable girls in the town were being groomed, pimped, trafficked and raped. The council’s extraordinary response to the publishing of the documents was to demand a criminal enquiry into the leaking of the documents, to apply for a High Court injunction barring the publication of further documents, and to hire a firm of solicitors to expose the security breach.
Now it appears that councillors and police officers were not only aware of the abuse, but actively participated in it. Complaints against two councillors, one still serving, have been passed on to the National Crime Agency for investigation, whilst accusations levelled against a corrupt police officer that he shared information with child rapists has been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
A second officer accused of neglect in his duties for failing to act on intelligence about his colleague’s conduct has also been referred to the IPCC.
Local newspaper The Star has reported that one officer has been referred to the IPCC following four complaints from two people about that officer, although it is not clear whether it is the same officer in question.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police told The Star: “South Yorkshire Police has received four public complaints relating to alleged misconduct of one of our officers. The complaints were made by two separate people about the officer, a PC based in the Rotherham area. The force has referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“The PC continues to work for the force on restricted duties.”
The Commons home affairs select committee was also told by a charity worker that a South Yorkshire Police officer was on the payroll of the perpetrators of the abuse, and was paid to undermine the protection of vulnerable girls by sharing confidential information with abusers of Pakistani origin. Again, it is unclear whether this is the same officer in question.
In total, South Yorkshire Police has confirmed that ten of their officers are currently under investigation by the IPCC in connection with the abuse. One is alleged to have argued that a young girl being abused by five men should not be classed as a sexual abuse victim as she had been “100 percent consensual”.
Two officers are accused of failing to properly investigate when a 12 year old was found drunk inside a car with a man who had indecent photos of her on his phone. A further three allegedly failed to properly investigate the rape of a 14 year old girl. Yet another is said to have lost evidence relating to a victim who was raped on four separate occasions.
The scandal came to international attention last year with the publication of an inquiry by Alexis Jay found widespread abuse of girls as young as 11 between 1997 and 2013. According to Jay, the men involved were “almost all” of Pakistani origin, leading to the council turning a blind eye for fear of being branded ‘racist’.
“Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so,” Jay found.
The damning report led to the resignations of the council leader, Roger Stone, its chief executive, Martin Kimber, the director of children’s services, Joyce Thacker, and the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright.
Following the publication of the Jay report, communities secretary Eric Pickles ordered an independent investigation into Rotherham council by Louise Casey, director general of the government’s troubled families program. Sources in the town are indicating that the report is set to deliver a damning verdict on the council.
If serious failings are revealed, Pickles may choose to send in government intervention. Last year he sent three commissioners in to oversee Tower Hamlets council amidst allegations of corruption; commissioners were also sent to Rotherham’s neighbouring local authority of Doncaster in 2010.