Fresh investigations likely into 75 suspected Rotherham child abusers

Rotherham
Rotherham

Investigations against around 75 suspected Rotherham child abusers that were not followed up by South Yorkshire Police are likely to be reopened by the National Crime Agency.

Around 80 suspected perpetrators were identified as part of South Yorkshire Police’s Operation Central, which ended in 2010.

But only five men were eventually convicted, with one police officer telling the recent Casey inquiry into the grooming scandal he was told to ‘cut off’ the investigation.

The NCA, who are taking over the investigation of historic allegations of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, said they would not comment on individual force investigations before a review is completed.

But a spokesman confirmed the NCA are ‘seeking to identify and bring to justice all those who were involved in CSE in Rotherham’.

The organisation - dubbed the British equivalent of the FBI – is in the preliminary stages of Operation Stovewood, investigating historic Rotherham abuse cases dating between 1997 and 2013.

It was asked to take over investigations by South Yorkshire Police, in light of the damning Jay report which said police had treated victims with ‘contempt’.

A spokesman for the NCA said the organisation will also be re-examining past decisions not to charge suspected abusers in light of recent changes to CPS guidance designed to make it easier to bring alleged perpetrators to court.

Operation Central was launched by South Yorkshire Police in 2008.

The Casey report revealed that the four children who eventually gave statements to the police had been known to social care workers ‘for a long period’.

Nine months after the first allegations, eight men were arrested on charges including rape and unlawful sexual activity with girls aged 13 to 15.

Five men were eventually convicted, receiving sentences totalling 32 years.

Despite the convictions, the Casey report was critical of the police’s handling of the operation.

It said: “Even when evidence and intelligence was available, police did not follow this through. For example, while five men were convicted of offences through Operation Central, inspectors established that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Around 80 perpetrators were identified through the intelligence and mapping of perpetrators carried out for the operation.

“One police officer told us that he came under pressure to hand the case on: ‘I think as a police service we could have done a better job. I remember having a conversation with someone and I said, ‘What about everyone else on that chart?’ I was told, ‘We’ve got to cut it off somewhere’.”