Senior police to be probed over Rotherham failings

Senior police to be probed over Rotherham failings

The actions of dozens of police officers in the region have already come under the scrutiny of the Independent Office For Police Conduct (IOPC).

But Sky News has learned that investigators will ask why high-ranking officers failed to act on reports that child exploitation was rife in the town.

One whistleblower told Sky News that a senior officer at the time indicated to her that they prioritised car crime over child abuse.

A victim of child exploitation says she believes police inaction facilitated her abuse.

The IOPC has written to abuse survivors saying We are extending our investigation and will be looking into the actions of senior officers who were in charge of the force at the relevant time.

The main allegation within the complaint is that senior officers from SYP failed in their statutory duty to protect children between 1999 and 2011.

The two whistleblowers who made the complaint against senior officers have spoken exclusively to Sky News.

Jayne Senior ran an outreach project for abused children. She made the complaint on behalf of Dr Angie Heal, who was employed by South Yorkshire Police.

Mrs Senior said I know that from at least 2001 that senior officers were aware of this and we sit here now in 2018 and actually who has been held accountable?

Dr Angie Heal wrote a series of reports for South Yorkshire Police between 2003 and 2006 which highlighted the child abuse problem in Rotherham.

As a former employee, she was not allowed to make the complaint herself.

She told Sky News I could not believe the lack of response.

I saw the circulation list and that two senior officers received my reports. What did they do with them? Did they tell the Chief Constable about it? And if not, why not?

These were really, really serious crimes against children. It can’t get much more serious than this.

Dr Heal added I remember one conversation with a senior officer who said ‘it’s all very awful but our priorities are set by government and they are burglary and car crime’.

In 2014, a report by Alexis Jay found at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited by gangs of men in the city between 1997 and 2013.

Professor Jay’s report criticised the police for ignoring a series of reports into child abuse, including Dr Heal’s.

Prof Jay says in her report that Dr Heal’s studies presented a vivid and alarming picture of the links between sexual exploitation, drugs, gangs and violent crime in Rotherham.

But she adds These reports were ignored and no action was taken.

This lack of action will be part of the focus of the police watchdog’s investigation.

The IOPC has also confirmed that Operation Linden, which is investigating allegations against rank and file police officers over the Rotherham abuse scandal, has now considered 102 complaints.

After some have been linked or discontinued, this will result in 85 individual reports.

One victim, Elizabeth, told Sky News The senior team should have been investigated from day one. I can’t understand why they didn’t respond.

I feel like they facilitated my abuse by letting these perpetrators do what they did.

Elizabeth said that when it was reported she had been trafficked to Bristol for sex, the police response was We are not a taxi firm.

Former chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, Meredydd Hughes, was questioned by the home affairs select committee in September 2014.

Mr Hughes, who was chief constable from 2004-11, told MPs he had no understanding of the scale and scope of what was going on in Rotherham.

News Source SkyNews

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