County police force ‘has improved rapidly’ after damning child sex report

Shaun Wright
Shaun Wright
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A Yorkshire police criticised for its inconsistent approach to tackling child sex abuse has “reacted well” by making rapid improvements, a watchdog says.

In November Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said it had “serious concern” about the quality of protection children receive in South Yorkshire, despite child sexual exploitation being made a priority in the county.

The report said the importance of the task was “not properly being disseminated across local policing districts, and that as a result, children are not always being adequately protected”. After returning for a follow-up inspection, HMIC says South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright has “invested considerably” in the force’s response to child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Thirty extra staff have been taken on at a cost of £1.5 million, and officers who had been working on a major investigation have been moved out to local public protection units.

It added: “The introduction of new staff has had a perceived impact on a more manageable workload for CSE staff and, as a consequence, HMIC noted a positive difference in the improved wellbeing of staff.”

It concluded: “South Yorkshire Police has reacted well to the recommendations of the original inspection which has had to occur at a rapid pace to ensure that the response in tackling CSE is appropriate and safeguards young people.

“HMIC recognises that this is a journey with a defined destination, and the force acknowledges there is still some way to go in reaching this destination.”

Local authorities in South Yorkshire have been heavily criticised for being “inexcusably slow” to tackle widespread sexual abuse of children.

Earlier this year, Mr Wright announced plans to move 100 officers into South Yorkshire Police’s public protection units in the next two years at a cost of £5 million.