Police were warned in 2006 that Asian grooming gangs were ‘acting with impunity’ in South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield

Police were warned in 2006 that they were letting the Asian ringleaders of suspected grooming gangs ‘act with seeming impunity’ in South Yorkshire.

Drug analyst Dr Angie Heal’s report from that year, released to The Star under a Freedom of Information request, said Asian men were ‘undoubtedly the most significant group to be associated with sexual exploitation’.

It said those involved were ‘operating organised crime groups’ and involved in other serious offences.

Her report to South Yorkshire Police warned that a failure to deal with the issue was causing ‘damage’ and racial tension by allowing groups such as the British National Party to ‘seize the media headlines’.

The 2006 report said Rotherham had a ‘very organised’ sexual exploitation scene, with children being trafficked to other towns and cities in the North and the Midlands for the purposes of being abused by other men.

It also noted there was a ‘very entrenched’ problem with child sexual exploitation in Sheffield.

Dr Heal said: “Whilst the issue of ethnicity and sexual exploitation is one of great sensitivity, reports of such involvement should be thoroughly investigated by all agencies. Criminals in any environment can effectively dominate and intimidate people within their own community if they are left to act with seeming impunity.

“To commit such acts of sexual and physical violence will be an acute embarrassment to their family and friends, but who probably feel unable to speak out about such issues. When incidents come to light, it is the likes of the British National Party that seize the media headlines and do more damage than if the issue was tackled proactively.”

She said some young white people in Rotherham had reported seeing young Asian teenagers driving around in expensive cars aged 15 but believed the police were not acting against them ‘for fear of allegations of racism’.

Dr Heal had given her police bosses a list of the main suspects alleged to have been organising child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and Sheffield three years before making this warning.

Professor Alexis Jay’s inquiry into Rotherham, published in August, found the majority of offenders were from the Pakistani community. South Yorkshire Police has said it has accepted its past failings on tackling child sexual exploitation and is making improvements.