Rotherham scandal: ‘Police and councillors abused girls’

A criminal investigation is to be started after a damning new report into Rotherham's child sexual exploitation prompted the replacement of its entire political leadership with Government commissioners.

A criminal investigation is to be started after a damning new report into Rotherham's child sexual exploitation prompted the replacement of its entire political leadership with Government commissioners.

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A police officer and two councillors have been accused of abusing victims of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, it was claimed today.

Allegations that a police officer abused girls and passed information to abusers preying on vulnerable girls in the town are being examined by the police watchdog, according to The Times newspaper.

Professor Alexis Jay

Professor Alexis Jay

South Yorkshire Police is said to have referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation.

A second officer is also believed to be under investigation over claims he failed to take action after receiving information about his colleague’s alleged conduct.

The National Crime Agency, described as the British FBI, is also said to be investigating allegations that two Rotherham councillors abused girls during the 16 years examined by Professor Alexis Jay in her report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

It comes as the findings of an independent inspection of Rotherham council by Louise Casey, the director-general of the Government’s troubled families programme, are published today.

The report will be presented to Parliament this morning and published on the Department of Communities and Local Government website shortly afterwards. Secretary of State Eric Pickles, who ordered the inspection, will make a statement this afternoon.

Mr Pickles said at the time of his announcement that Ms Casey’s inspection would examine a range of issues including whether the council covers up information, whether whistleblowers are silenced and whether it “was and continues to be subject to institutionalised political correctness, affecting its decision-making on sensitive issues”.

Ms Casey was also tasked with looking at all aspects of how the council liaises with other organisations, including the police.

A Rotherham Council spokeswoman said: “Clearly these allegations are extremely serious and we will co-operate fully with any investigation relating to them by the National Crime Agency.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further as this is now a matter for the police and the NCA. However, our legal advisers will be carefully considering any information that is received in relation to these matters, and we will take any action necessary.”

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion tweeted this morning: “Statement will be made today about the Casey report into Rotherham. I’ll do all I can to make sure we get the support & resources needed.”

An IPCC spokesman declined to comment on the new allegations made against the police officer and councillors in Rotherham.

He said: “The IPCC’s independent investigation into the conduct of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers in relation to their handling of reported child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is ongoing. This is a large and complex investigation.

“Since we announced our investigation we have received 20 individual complaints. Work is ongoing to assess these complaints to determine whether they are new allegations or matters already under the remit of our investigation.

“We have also been liaising with the National Crime Agency in relation to their investigation examining criminal allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham to ensure nothing is done to prejudice any future potential criminal prosecutions and both investigations deal with the victims as sensitively as possible.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police has referred a number of complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“As publicly announced by the IPCC, their investigation the conduct of 10 officers in relation to their handling of reported child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is ongoing.

“Further referrals are currently under review by the IPCC.

“We remain committed to assisting them with their independent investigation into any alleged misconduct.”

Professor Jay found that between 1997 and 2013 an estimated 1,400 children were abused by largely Pakistani heritage men while authorities failed to take action because of cultural sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.

She said the victims were subjected to ‘appalling levels of crime and abuse,’ which involved them being trafficked to other towns to be raped.

She said police and council officials chose to ‘disbelieve, suppress or ignore’ evidence of the offending.

The Jay Report provoked a huge controversy and two investigations by Commons committees.

A number of high-profile figures resigned, including South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, who had been a councillor in the town and responsible for children’s services.

Other resignations included those of the council leader, Roger Stone, the chief executive, Martin Kimber, and its director of children’s services, Joyce Thacker.

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