Police say they are ‘pursuing’ the return of a Rotherham child grooming suspect who has skipped bail and fled to Pakistan.
Basharat Hussain, 38, had been arrested as part of Operation Clover, an investigation into allegations of historic child sexual exploitation offences in Rotherham, and was released on bail in March.
Eight people, including three of Mr Hussain’s brothers, have now been charged as part of the same operation, with a trial scheduled to start at Sheffield Crown Court in December.
In a statement, South Yorkshire Police did not name Mr Hussain but said they were ‘in contact’ with a 38-year-old man’s legal representatives about him returning to Britain.
A spokeswoman said that as he had not been charged and the police had ‘no reason at that time to believe he was a flight risk’, they had limited powers to take his passport away prior to him leaving the country.
She said he had previously travelled abroad and returned to the UK while out on bail.
It comes as the issue of Mr Hussain’s departure from the country was raised at a meeting of Rotherham Council.
Council leader Chris Read said he had raised the matter with the police and would be seeking further updates on the issue.
A statement from the police said: “The force remains in contact with the man’s legal representatives regarding the next stage of the inquiry and his return to the UK is being pursued.”
It added: “Police have limited powers to impose conditions that an arrested person surrenders their passport, and any such conditions are almost unenforceable unless there is sufficient evidence to charge for the offence which they are being investigated for.
“Until police are in a position to charge a person, our options around imposing bail conditions are significantly reduced.
“The 38-year-old man in question, who was arrested in connection with child sexual exploitation allegations, was released on bail in March 2015. We were not at a charging stage, so it was not an enforceable option for us.
“He had been co-operative with police and had answered his bail when required.
“He had also travelled abroad and returned to the UK and to a police station to answer his bail as agreed on previous occasions. As such, there was no reason at that time to believe he was a flight risk.
“Investigations of this nature are often complex in nature and, as a result, often take a considerable amount of time to reach a stage where we are able to charge suspects.
“As such, suspects are often placed on bail for a protracted amount of time, where travel abroad although not what we would want to happen is very difficult to prevent.
“Bail conditions, which prevented him from visiting Rotherham and contacting witnesses, were imposed on him.”