A bare 12 months into the police investigation into Rotherham child sex exploitation (CSE) allegations and one startling new fact has emerged: it may cost nearly £7m this year alone as it potentially becomes ‘the single largest CSE investigation ever undertaken in the UK’.
A new report has highlighted the National Crime Agency (NCA) Operation Stovewood as one of the key financial pressures on South Yorkshire Police. It also declined to nominate a date for the publication of its report.
The force is underwriting the investigation by the NCA into historic Rotherham child sexual exploitation offences in the wake of police failures in the town’s child grooming scandal.
The NCA said in June it had identified 300 potential suspects and was following up on 3,300 lines of enquiry in relation to allegations covering 1997 to 2013. This is the same period covered by the damning Jay report that found there were at least 1,400 victims of abuse.
It said: “Discussions are taking place with the NCA regarding the level of resourcing requested for the ongoing investigative work.”
As Breibart London has previously revealed, in a concurrent probe more than 160 police officers are under investigation Rotherham 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 South Yorkshire finance report has suggested Operation Stovewood retains the scope to exceed any other now underway in the UK. These include Operation Pallial, looking into claims of sexual abuse in the care system in North Wales, which involves around 320 potential victims and the Met Police-run Operation Yewtree, an enquiry into alleged child sexual exploitation by the late Jimmy Savile and others.
It said: “As Operation Stovewood has progressed, it has become clear that it has the potential to be the single largest CSE investigation ever undertaken in the UK.”
A spokesman for the NCA said: “We provide the force with regular updates on the costs/future costs of the investigation for each phase/accounting period. The level of resources required is benchmarked against similar investigations conducted elsewhere and national best practice.
“The investigation is large and complex, and involves investigating criminal activity over a 16-year-period by both organised groups and individuals. Work to identify all victims of non-familial CSE in Rotherham, potentially 1,400 people, is ongoing. We have prioritised two specific investigations under Operation Stovewood at this point.
“Investigations are conducted to a professional standard and as quickly as possible. The speed of an investigation is therefore based on the level of resources available at any given time. The standards to which we work, in the interests of victims/survivors, suspects and the criminal justice system, are non-negotiable. We expect the investigation to take a number of years.”
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