A senior investigator has been appointed to lead the National Crime Agency’s independent investigation into the Rotherham child abuse scandal.
Steve Baldwin, former NCA head of investigations for Northern England, is to take charge of Operation Stovewood, the investigation into child grooming in the town between 1997 and 2013 - the period covered by the damning Alexis Jay report.
Mr Baldwin, who has more than 20 years’ experience of investigating serious and organised crime, will directly manage officers and staff on the investigation and report to the officer in overall command, NCA director Trevor Pearce.
The costs of the investigation, which are expected to run into millions of pounds, are being covered by South Yorkshire Police.
South Yorkshire Police asked the NCA to take over investigations into historic grooming offences in Rotherham after the force was heavily criticised in the Jay report, which revealed at least 1,400 children in the town had been victims of sexual exploitation.
Operation Stovewood is still in its preliminary phases of identifying and examining relevant material held by South Yorkshire Police and other bodies in order to work out the nature, scale and requirements of its investigation.
The national organisation - seen as the British equivalent of the FBI - is in the process of establishing a major incident room where it will conduct its investigation from.
A spokesman for the NCA said: “Only officers and other staff employed to deliver, or support, the investigation will have access to the major incident room, which is being equipped with both NCA systems and links to access necessary South Yorkshire Police information.”
Only ‘selected and vetted’ South Yorkshire Police officers will be allowed access to the incident room.
The NCA has also announced its review of South Yorkshire Police’s major investigations into historic child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham will begin next month.
This work will be coordinated by NCA deputy director Andrew Baker, with the review team including independent senior national law enforcement experts and advisers from the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection command and the College of Policing.
An NCA spokesman said: “The review will check compliance with current best policing practice and seek to identify the potential for additional investigative opportunities. It will also identify learning and best practice that can be taken forward both locally and by similar investigations elsewhere.”