Police watchdog launches probe into officers over Rotherham scandal

Police watchdog launches probe into South Yorkshire senior officers for failing to protect children in Rotherham sex abuse scandal

  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched probe into senior officers
  • Commanders are being investigated over Rotherham sex abuse scandal
  • They allegedly failed to protect children between 1997 and 2013 
  • Body said no individual officer is being investigated at this stage 

A police watchdog has launched a probe into senior officers in charge during the Rotherham child exploitation scandal.  

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has confirmed it will review the role of commanders who allegedly failed in their statutory duty to protect children between 1997 and 2013 as part of ‘Operation Linden’.

Earlier this year the IOPC said its Operation Linden had grown to 98 investigations by the beginning of April 2018, compared with 62 at the same point in 2017.

Around 45 investigation reports have been completed and 33 current and former police officers remain under notice that they are being investigated.

Senior police commanders in charge during the Rotherham sex abuse scandal are to be investigated by a watchdog (file picture)

Former South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, pictured, is one who may come under the probe, although the Independent Office for Police Conduct said no individuals are currently being investigated

An IOPC spokesman said: ‘Our investigation will include gathering evidence about the actions carried out by the senior command team, after reports were allegedly shared with them that highlighted child sexual abuse was being carried out in Rotherham during the period covered by Operation Linden’.

The spokesman said no individual senior officer is under investigation at this stage.

IOPC Acting Deputy Director for Major Investigations Steve Noonan said: ‘We have taken our time to carefully consider the complaint referral from South Yorkshire Police, and have made this announcement at the earliest opportunity. 

‘It’s important to say that we’re in the early stages of this particular strand of the investigation and the next steps will be to draft the terms of reference, which will be vital to bring focus to this complicated case. 

‘I’d like to make it clear that no individual officer is under investigation at this stage.

‘The force’s strategy to tackle CSA during the period we are investigating has already been highlighted through Operation Linden. 

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‘This is an area we feel needs to be fully investigated to give the survivors, and people living in Rotherham, confidence that we have carried out a thorough investigation.’ 

‘As we have stated all along our intention is to produce an over-arching report for Operation Linden that pulls together all of our key findings, outcomes and learning from our investigations all in one place. 

He added: ‘Our ultimate aim is to ensure that all those affected can be confident that their complaints have been comprehensively investigated, and for South Yorkshire Police and indeed all forces across the country to learn from our findings.’ 

The IOPC investigation began after the Jay Report concluded that the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children in Rotherham had been effectively ignored by police and other agencies.

Over 1,400 children were estimated to have been abused in the town between 1997 and 2013

The Jay Report provoked a national outcry when it revealed that the large scale exploitation undertaken by gangs of largely Pakistani-heritage men had been effectively ignored by police and other agencies for more than a decade. 

Earlier this year, the IOPC said that 33 current and former police officers were under notice that they are being investigated while the National Crime Agency said the number of victims appears to be even higher than the 1,400 figure estimated by Prof Jay.

The agency said 110 ‘designated suspects’ had been identified and it had 144 staff working on 34 distinct investigations a figure senior officers wanted to see rise to more than 200. 

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