Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has said it has identified about 300 possible suspects in an investigation into child sex abuse in the town of Rotherham.
Steve Baldwin, senior investigating officer at the NCA, said the 1,400 victims in the town identified by Professor Alexis Jay in her damning report last year was “a very good estimate”.
The Daily Mail also reports that two current or former town councillors are under investigation over allegations they were involved in the abuse.
The investigation – named Operation Stovewood – began in December following the publication of the Jay Report, which described how hundreds of children in Rotherham had been groomed, trafficked and raped by gangs of mainly Pakistani men between 1997 and 2013.
The report was also severely critical of the police and the local council and led to a number of high profile resignations.
Baldwin said he and his team of 32 officers have now identified 3,300 lines of enquiry in their investigation, and have examined 47 boxes of written material from the organisation Risky Business which tried to help many possible victims.
He confirmed that most of the potential suspects were Asian men and most of the alleged victims are white British girls.
Baldwin told a briefing: “The abuse that has taken place in Rotherham is horrendous. We have gathered a huge amount of material in Operation Stovewood and this details some disturbing events.
“We will use the information as a starting point for developing intelligence and evidence. Given the amount of victims there is, there is potential to identify thousands of offences.”
He added: “We will progress this investigation as quickly as professionally possible but it is complex. Much of the information we have is not yet in a format that makes it easy to analyse.
“My priority at the moment is to ensure that we fully understand what has happened, and how, so that we can take the most effective action.”