At least 42 South Yorkshire Police officers are now being investigated by a watchdog over their handling of child sex abuse allegations in Rotherham, it was revealed today.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said its probe into the under-fire force had expanded since it announced in November that ten police officers faced misconduct investigations over incidents raised in Alexis Jay’s bombshell report.
The IPCC said in a statement today: “Since that announcement we have received 30 complaints relating to South Yorkshire Police’s handling of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.
“The complaints contain more than 100 allegations against 42 named police officers, both retired and serving, as well as a number of allegations against officers whose identities are currently unknown.
“Work to establish the identity of the unknown officers and to identify any links between the different complaints and incidents is ongoing.
“The allegations range from neglect of duty by failing to adequately investigate on the basis of intelligence or to deal with incidents appropriately, inappropriate comments and suggestions of corrupt relationships between police officers and offenders.
“In addition, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating an allegation that South Yorkshire Police failed to act on information passed to them in 2004 and 2006 about alleged child sexual exploitation in Sheffield. This complaint relates to two named police officers who are now retired from the police service.”
The full scale of child sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town was revealed last summer in a report by Professor Alexis Jay.
It described how at least 1,400 children were raped, trafficked and groomed in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
It painted a pictures of hundreds of teenagers, mainly girls, being exploited by gangs of mainly Asian men with impunity.
Professor Jay said police and senior council officers had failed to tackle problem or take it seriously.
A wave of high profile resignations followed and the National Crime Agency was brought in to investigate the sexual exploitation in the town going back over a number of years.
Earlier this month, South Yorkshire’s police commissioner ordered a full-scale inspection of the county force amid accusations it failed to listen to hundreds of victims of child sex exploitation in neighbouring Sheffield.
Dr Alan Billings said he wanted the inquiry to be similar to the work of Louise Casey, which exposed the widespread abuse which took place in Rotherham while the authorities turned a blind eye.
He said the probe was needed to “restore public confidence” in officers after a leaked police document which names more than 200 girls in Sheffield who were suspected of being sexually exploited, along with a list of more 320 men who had been accused of carrying out the abuse.
A damning testimony from a former officer said that South Yorkshire Police focused its efforts on crimes linked to Home Office targets, including car crime and burglary, between 2007 and 2010, when the offences are said to have taken place.
South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “South Yorkshire Police has referred a number of complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in relation to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
“We remain committed to assisting them with their independent investigation into any alleged misconduct.”