Rotherham sex abuse probe lead is unveiled

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The agency dubbed the British FBI has appointed its former head of investigations for Northern England to lead the probe into the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

Steve Baldwin of the National Crime Agency 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 the NCA says 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, its director Trevor Pearce.

The costs of the probe, 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 NCA is in the process of establishing a major incident room where it will conduct its investigation. Only ‘selected and vetted’ South Yorkshire Police officers will be allowed access.

The agency has also announced its review of South Yorkshire Police’s major investigations into historic child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham will begin next month. It will be coordinated by NCA deputy director Andrew Baker.