‘Disgust’ in Rotherham over anti-Islam comments on police Facebook page

Some of the comments on South Yorkshire Police's Facebook page
Some of the comments on South Yorkshire Police's Facebook page
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SOUTH YORKSHIRE Police has come under-fire over a string of offensive comments and threats concerning the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal left on its official social media page.

More than 1,000 comments, some of which include anti-Islam and racist abuse, were posted on the force’s Facebook page in response to a message thanking members of the public for a ‘peaceful’ Muslim Youth demonstration.

The event, which took place outside the town hall on Saturday, came one week after an English Defence League march saw over 1,000 supporters of the far-right group take to the streets to protest against the findings of the Jay report, which news that at least 1,400 children were abused by gangs of men predominantly of Pakistani origin in Rotherham between 1997 to 2013.

Senior officers have come in for further criticism for failing to take down the messages, some of which threatened violence to fellow Facebook users and appeared to lay the blame for the scandal on the Muslim community.

The Yorkshire Post understands more than one member of the public has reported the comments to SYP, but they remained on the site yesterday.

One Rotherham resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Yorkshire Post: “The messages which appeared are hateful and racist. It’s disgusting, there are all sorts of things on there, including threats and it is a public page the police use to get information out there.

“I complained about it on Saturday and the officer told me they’d pass it on to a supervisor, but still nothing has been done.”

A spokeswoman for the force said it did not intend to remove the comments, but would investigate any which appeared to break the law.

She said: “We respect the rights of individuals to post comments reflecting their personal opinions and thoughts, provided those comments fall within the boundaries of the law.

“All social media activity is monitored and moderated. Any comment or post found to be offensive or racist, or any material deemed to breach legislation, will be investigated and the appropriate action taken. If someone sees a comment that they believe requires investigation, they should report this to police and not use social media as a crime reporting tool.”

It comes as Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee promised Rotherham’s three MPs it would deliver an update on its investigation into child sexual exploitation prosecutions this week.

John Healey, Sarah Champion and Kevin Barron, have demanded answers over when details of two inquiries into historic child abuse allegations and cases announced by the disgraced former Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright in August last year will be published.

The trio asked for confirmation of the number of suspects being investigated, details of charges and convictions, figures on abduction notices and for the inquiry into police’s past failings to be overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission or National Crime Agency.

They are also seeking information on action being taken to tackle under-reporting of sexual exploitation by boys and Asian girls, a concern raised in the report.

Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: “Greater wider confidence in the police will be built on seeing them do their job of bringing the full force of justice down on those who have committed such dreadful crimes. We want to be sure ourselves that this is the case.”