More than 160 police officers are under investigation in the Rotherham abuse scandal over allegations they systematically ignored complaints of widespread child sexual exploitation.
The watchdog is examining whether or not disciplinary or even legal action should be brought against police officers who are accused of ignoring victims’ claims that they were being sexually trafficked and abused.
The IPCC has received 47 referrals from South Yorkshire Police since the publication of the Jay report 12 months ago which exposed the scale of child rape, trafficking and grooming in the South Yorkshire town. Professor Alexis Jay’s report described how more than 1,400 children were sexually exploited by gangs of mainly Asian males in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
It was also scathing about a culture among police and council officials which ignored the industrial scale of abuse, instead treating the victims of sexual exploitation as troublesome teenagers.
Investigators have now served misconduct notices on 27 officers to advise their specific actions are under investigation. In total 41 misconduct notices have been served, as some officers have received multiple notices as they are involved in more than one complaint. Of those served with notices so far, seven are retired.
A spokeswoman confirmed this is an ongoing process as investigative and analytical work continues. She said:
“Analysis of all the referrals has so far identified more than 60 officers.
“Further assessments are being carried out to establish the specific allegations against these individuals to determine what further actions are needed. Work is ongoing to identify more than 100 officers who are referenced in the referrals but are unnamed.”
The Jay report was commissioned by Rotherham Council after a high profile child sexual exploitation trial and a series of damning stories in the Times about what was happening in the town. Its impact lay in the sheer scale of offending that it outlined and the horrific details it included of what had happened to girls as young as 11.
Prof Jay said at the time she had found “utterly appalling” examples of “children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally-violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone”.
The failings of the authorities to protect the children was so great that South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, was forced to resign and Rotherham Council was brought under Government control.
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