IPCC ends nine Rotherham scandal inquiries despite ‘significant failings’ being uncovered

8 March 2017..........Rachel Cerfontyne, deputy head of the IPCC, giving a briefing on the inquiry into the Rotherham CSE scandal where more than 90 police officers are currently under investigation. Picture Scott Merrylees
8 March 2017..........Rachel Cerfontyne, deputy head of the IPCC, giving a briefing on the inquiry into the Rotherham CSE scandal where more than 90 police officers are currently under investigation. Picture Scott Merrylees
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Nine investigations into allegations of police misconduct over the Rotherham scandal have ended with ‘no case to answer’ - despite serious failings being uncovered.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today that of the 62 investigations it has set up into police failings over the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, all nine to be completed so far have resulted in no action being taken against officers.

A lot of damage has been done and a lot of answers won’t be found because too much time has passed.

One of the Rotherham victims

Rotherham abuse scandal probe now investigating 91 officers

Despite the decisions, IPCC deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said “significant failings” had been uncovered in the course of those investigations, while there was also a lack of available evidence in some cases.

“We had the same challenges with Hillsborough, there are some things that aren’t there to find,” she said.

“In the investigations that we’ve completed, what we’ve found is significant failings.

“Those failings that are coming out of those investigations are relating to information sharing amongst the agencies; around the leadership, culture, attitude towards the survivors and to the alleged perpetrators.

“What we’re finding is not sufficient resourcing and prioritisation going into this area of work. But what we haven’t found on the nine that we’ve finished is any misconduct.”

Recommendations have been made to South Yorkshire Police “concerning the recording of information and the retention of archived material”.

Some of the officers involved with the discontinued investigations are believed to be linked to other complaints still being looked at.

A total of 40 people have made complaints about police handling of child sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham between the 1990s and 2013, with 211 allegations made.

One victim said today she was not surprised at the lack of action on the cases that have already been concluded.

“You can’t really do much without evidence. But if they had dealt with things back then maybe there would be evidence. A lot of damage has been done and a lot of answers won’t be found because too much time has passed.”

Of the remaining 53 investigations, it is hoped the majority will be concluded this year.

There are 120 outstanding allegations relating to officers who are yet to be identified. The IPCC says for the first time in cases where allegations are believed but an officer can’t be identified, complaints will be upheld.

Ms Cerfontyne said a “significant” numbers of the officers under investigation have already retired from the force.

She admitted the IPCC has limited powers to deal with officers who have already retired.

“Criminal proceedings can always take place.

“What there can’t be is any disciplinary hearings of someone who has left the force. The highest sanction you can have is for someone to lose their job and you can’t lose your job if you are no longer working.”

While no officers have been arrested, the IPCC says at least one officer has been interviewed under criminal caution.

The organisation says the majority of the allegations relate to inaction in abuse cases rather than corruption issues.

It follows allegations in court that one detective had been having sex with victims and passing drugs to a member of a grooming ring. There have also been allegations that an officer was paid to protect a violent offender from arrest.

An IPCC spokesman said today that its operation “covers allegations ranging from failure to act, through to corruption”.

Police bosses ‘won’t face misconduct proceedings’

The IPCC is examining the role of South Yorkshire Police’s leadership at the time of the Rotherham scandal - but say they are yet to find any evidence of misconduct among senior bosses.

Deputy chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: “It is important for this not to be a scapegoating exercise for junior officers without looking at the leadership and culture of the force.”

She said “themes” have started to emerge around force priorities and resources at the time that were not directed towards this form of crime, with the eventual findings due to be part of an over-arching IPCC report on the police failings in Rotherham.

But she said there is no current misconduct investigation into the actions of the force’s senior leadership over the course of the 16 years the scandal unfolded.

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Rotherham abuse scandal probe now investigating 91 officers