Rotherham grooming investigation: More than 1,000 victims identified between 1997 and 2013 as more are urged to come forward

The National Crime Agency has launched a major drive to contact more victims of the Rotherham child sexual abuse gangs who preyed on girls in the town in the 1990s and 2000s.

Despite 20 men having already been convicted for their involvement in 'grooming' activity between 1997 and 2013, police officers believe that many more victims are still to come forward and that other perpetrators may still be free.

The Operation Stovewood appeal will involve requests for information on social media and a poster and leaflet campaign in public places.

There are still more than 30 investigations underway into child sexual exploitation and 1,000 victims are known to police.

Rotherham town centre

Although 200 people have been arrested in Rotherham, only 20 have been jailed so far. More charges are expected to be brought in 2022.

Senior investigating officer Philip Marshall confirmed that the time-frame under consideration mirrors that of the original report into the issue by Professor Alexis Jay, which was published in 2014.

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford raised recent concerns in Parliament about young girls being approached and groomed in the town by older men at the end of 2021, but any allegations made after 2013 will be investigated by South Yorkshire Police rather than the NCA.

The 20 men originally jailed were predominantly of British Pakistani descent and Mr Marshall confirmed that the suspects still under investigation are mainly from 'one community' but would not provide further details.

"It is a fair assessment to say that abuse is still happening in Rotherham, but I think that is a reflection of society in general and Rotherham is no different from any other town. We recognise these concerns but any live investigation will pass now to South Yorkshire Police."

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Operation Stovewood has entered a new phase as only around 120 of the 1,000 victims identified by service providers in South Yorkshire have yet to be personally spoken to by Mr Marshall, after which the focus will move to those who have not yet come forward.

"The campaign now is to reach out to those who might not have been known by agencies - they exist in the community and we want to ensure that they get support for their trauma. We cannot promise they will all get a criminal justice outcome, but I will strive to achieve that and signpost them to get assistance."

The operation is expected to take another five years to conclude.

"This does not mark the end of Stovewood, but we are entering a different phase of engaging with victims. Non-recent crimes present more challenges as we are relying on the testimonies of witnesses, and memories can fade. There can be a lack of corraboration, forensic opportunities and scenes might not be available, locations could have changed. Lots of things can have an impact.

“It is a lengthy and complex process and we expect our work to continue for some years yet."

Potential victims and witnesses can contact the team via the NCA website: or by calling the NCA Control Centre on 0370 496 7622 quoting Op Stovewood.