Nearly 200 live investigations into child grooming in South Yorkshire

Detectives in South Yorkshire are carrying out 193 live investigations into child sexual exploitation, the county’s police force has revealed.

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire Alan Billings.

The district with the highest number of live cases is Doncaster, with 57, while there are 50 live cases under investigation in Rotherham, 48 in Sheffield and 38 in Barnsley.

According to new figures released by South Yorkshire Police, between April 2014 and March this year there were 276 offences recorded by the force, 79 in Doncaster, 73 in Sheffield, 72 in Rotherham and 52 in Barnsley.

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Of these, 71 have led to suspects being charged, cautioned or summoned to court, including 21 in Doncaster, 19 in Sheffield, 17 in Barnsley and 14 in Rotherham.

The force has also revealed that over the last year it has been contacted 743 times by people with concerns about child sexual exploitation. It says its officers investigate each referral to see whether a criminal offence has been committed.

Schools, social services and family members are among those who have raised concerns, which all need to be looked into.

Details of the investigations were revealed in a monthly update on South Yorkshire Police’s website, setting out what it is doing to tackle child grooming.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “A referral to police is any concern that has been reported and can come from a number of sources including a school, social services or a concerned family member. It does not necessarily mean there has been an offence committed.

“Officers fully investigate all referrals and where an offence has been committed an investigation will be launched.

“In other cases where no criminal offences have taken place other agencies may offer support to the young person referred.

“Tackling child sexual exploitation and bringing offenders to justice is a priority for South Yorkshire Police. We are now operating with a deeper understanding of child sexual exploitation.”

The Alexis Jay report, published last year, revealed that 1,400 children in Rotherham had been abused between 1997 and 2013 by largely Pakistani-heritage men while police and council officials turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.

Last month South Yorkshire’s police commissioner ordered a full-scale inspection of the force amid accusations it failed to listen to hundreds of victims of child sex exploitation in Sheffield.

Dr Alan Billings said this week that he was ‘focussed on the need to ensure that the full extent of child sexual exploitation had been uncovered’ and had increased the number of officers dealing with CSE.

He said: “That is why I am commissioning an inspection of the whole force area - so that I can be sure that we understand the full extent of this in Doncaster, Sheffield and Barnsley as well as Rotherham.”