Trio are first to be charged in major Rotherham sex abuse inquiry

Operation Stovewood centres on child sex abuse in Rotherham.
Operation Stovewood centres on child sex abuse in Rotherham.

Three men will face court over alleged child sex abuse in Rotherham after becoming the first to be charged as part of the National Crime Agency’s Operation Stovewood.

The men, all from the Masbrough area of Rotherham, have been charged with a total of 15 offences of indecent assault against a child.

Riaz Makhmood, 38, Sajid Ali, 37, and Zaheer Iqbal, 39, all from the Masbrough area of Rotherham, have been charged with assaulting a girl aged under 14 between June 1994 and June 1995.

Riaz Makhmood faces three charges of indecent assault; Sajid Ali faces seven charges of indecent assault and Zaheer Iqbal faces five charges of indecent assault.

The men have been bailed to appear at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on January 9.

They are the first people to be charged with offences by Operation Stovewood, the independent NCA investigation set up in the wake of the 2014 report which laid bare the scale of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

To date, a total of 15 men have now been arrested, interviewed and bailed pending further enquiries for child sex abuse-related offences.

The investigation has identified 46 suspects to date and has begun the process of engaging with 157 victims and survivors.

The NCA were invited to investigate historic abuse cases in Rotherham by South Yorkshire Police after the force was heavily criticised in a report which revealed there had been at least 1,400 victims in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Detectives said earlier this year that they are following up more than 10,000 lines of enquiry, with 29 key suspects and ‘hundreds’ of others also under investigation.

At that point there were eight ‘specific major investigations’ under way as part of Operation Stovewood involving 82 victims and survivors, with the NCA stating more are likely to be established. Officers have examined more than 120,000 documents from police, council and health services.