Hundreds of criminals are being arrested for child sexual exploitation (CSE) offences across the county every year, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show arrests linked to CSE crimes include rape, abuse and sexual assault.
The Yorkshire Post submitted request to all four Yorkshire police forces, but only received responses from South Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police meaning the total number of arrests for CSE across the county could be much higher.
Across South Yorkshire, between January 2014 and June 2019, there were 2,016 arrests linked to CSE across the force area.
There were 958 arrests in Rotherham, 442 in Sheffield, 297 in Doncaster and 260 in Barnsley.
Detective Superintendent Shelley Hemsley, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “We fully investigate all reports of child sexual exploitation. As an organisation we continue to invest in our Protective Vulnerable People (PVP) department, and work hard to serve victims and survivors of sexual abuse and get them justice.
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“In South Yorkshire, we also have Operation Stovewood, a National Crime Agency-led operation which has the sole remit to review and investigate non-recent CSE offences in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. Operation Stovewood has so far made significant headway in investigating these reports, which has in turn encouraged other victims of non-recent sexual abuse to come forward. From 2015 onwards, we have experienced a significant rise is the reporting of non-recent cases in Rotherham. These are now being investigated by the NCA.
“We see the rise in reports as a positive impact of the work of our teams and that of the National Crime Agency in getting results in the courts on behalf of victims and survivors.
“We continue to work alongside the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency and victim support services commissioned by the OPCC such as the Independent Sexual Violent Advisors (ISVA) service. We are committed to doing all we can to support victims and build cases against the perpetrators.”
In West Yorkshire, during the same time period, there were 1,410 arrests related to CSE.
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Detective Superintendent Jon Morgan from West Yorkshire’s Police Central Safeguarding Governance Unit said tackling CSE is a “top priority” for the force.
He said: "The number of arrests reflect how serious West Yorkshire Police take child sexual exploitation and that we are committed to bringing these offenders to justice.
"Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime which targets the most vulnerable in our society. Protecting children and these victims is at the heart of everything that we do.
"The force runs two campaigns ‘Know the signs’ and ‘Who R U Talking 2’ with partner agencies to raise awareness of the issues and how people can identify the signs that a child is potentially at risk."