South Yorkshire Police have removed a ‘very insensitive’ festive video message highlighting an award it jointly received with Rotherham Council in March for tackling child sexual exploitation.
The two-minute video, called ‘Season’s Greetings from Chief Constable [David] Crompton’, highlighted a national award for ‘child sexual exploitation partnership’ given by the National Working Group Network charity, five months before the damning Jay report was published.
The video, designed to celebrate the force’s 2014 ‘highlights’, was taken down just hours after being put on the police website on Friday morning following complaints from victims.
It included a photo from the awards ceremony, with former head of Rotherham Council’s children’s services Joyce Thacker among those collecting the honour.
The father of one victim said he was ‘disgusted’ by the video and added other families of victims had also been in contact with him to express their disbelief.
“My phone has been ringing red hot. It has been complete uproar. It is very insensitive. I’m appalled - don’t be patting yourself on the back until you have these perpetrators in court and behind bars.”
He said the award should never have been given.
A spokesman for SYP said: “South Yorkshire Police has received feedback on a Christmas e-card, which we have taken on board. The card has been removed whilst we consider any amendments to be made. It is regrettable the card caused any offence.”
In August, Professor Jay revealed at least 1,400 children had been victims of sexual exploitation over a 16-year-period - with ‘blatant’ failings by the council and police uncovered.
The award was given in March while the Jay inquiry was still ongoing. The investigation was ordered following articles by Times journalist Andrew Norfolk that raised concerns about how grooming was being dealt with by town authorities. Ms Thacker said at the time that the award was ‘deserved recognition’ for staff ‘who have never deflected from the work they have undertaken despite, at times, severe external pressures’.
Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin said at the time: “This award is testimony to our continued passion and commitment as a partnership to do everything we can to stamp out these life-changing events.”