Police officers in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is to investigate the conduct of 10 South Yorkshire police officers in relation to their handling of reported child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
One officer from CID is alleged to have argued against charging a man who groomed a girl from the age of 12 because she consented “100%” – despite children under 16 being unable to legally consent to any sexual activity.
Another officer is accused of losing evidence relating to allegations that a victim had been raped four times. A further two officers reportedly failed to adequately investigate naked images of a young girl and possible evidence of group offending.
Those under investigation are part of a group of 13 referred to the IPCC by South Yorkshire police following Professor Alexis Jay’s independent review of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham in August.
Jay said blatant failures by police and political leadership in the town led to the abuse of 1,400 children over a 16-year period. She found that between 1997 and 2013, Rotherham’s most vulnerable girls, some as young as 11, were raped by large numbers of men. Yet police failed to bring the perpetrators to justice, often criminalising the victims instead.
Ofsted, the schools watchdog, added to the storm of criticism on Wednesday, citing children’s services in Rotherham for “widespread or serious failures that result in children being harmed or at risk of harm”. Ofsted inspected services in Rotherham a month after the publication of the Jay report.
The 10 police officers the IPCC is independently investigating were all identified through Jay’s report.
One is accused of ignoring two reports about exploitation – one in 2003 titled Sexual Exploitation, Drug Use and Drug Dealing: Current Situation in South Yorkshire, and the other in 2006 titled Violence and Gun Crime: Links with Sexual Exploitation, Prostitution and Drugs Markets in South Yorkshire.
The IPCC commissioner Kathryn Stone said: “The amount of public concern across the country about this episode and the impact on confidence in the police means it is important that a fully independent investigation is conducted to establish how South Yorkshire police dealt with child sexual exploitation.
“I sincerely hope that victims and their families will see this investigation as a positive step towards answering the many questions they must have. I have met with South Yorkshire police and am reassured by their commitment to fully cooperate with the investigation.”
South Yorkshire police said: “The force has met with the IPCC and remains absolutely committed to assisting them with their independent investigation in any way we can to ensure the full facts are established relating to any alleged misconduct. We will fully cooperate with the investigation into the force’s handling of child sexual exploitation and anyone found to have not acted appropriately will be held to account.”
The controversy that followed the publication of the Jay report led to a series of high-profile resignations including those of the Rotherham council leader Roger Stone, the council chief executive Martin Kimber and the director of children’s services Joyce Thacker. The most high-profile resignation was that of South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, who was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children’s services between 2005 and 2010.
South Yorkshire’s chief constable David Crompton has been under pressure to explain his force’s attitude towards child sexual exploitation over the last 15 years. Crompton has pledged to investigate individual cases and stressed that his force has seen a large increase in the number of officers and other staff devoted to tackling the issue in the last couple of years.
Last month the National Crime Agency announced it would lead an investigation into outstanding allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. It said it was taking on the inquiry following a request from Crompton.
On Wednesdsay Ofsted said: “The overall judgment is that children’s services are inadequate. In the delivery of services for looked-after children and care leavers these failures result in the welfare of these children not being safeguarded and promoted.
“Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures and have been ineffective in prioritising, challenging and making improvements.”
The report also judged the Local Safeguarding Children Board to be “inadequte”.
It said: “The arrangements in place to evaluate the effectiveness of what is done by the authority and board partners to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are inadequate.”
Копия Международные политические новости - theguardian.com