This despite approximately 1,400 children being raped, abused, degraded and humiliated between 1997 and 2013 – and the Independent Office for Police Conduct now disclosing that at least six officers should have faced disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct.
And given how Professor Alexis Jay’s original report said “many officers and staff were confused about the messages that they received from senior leaders about CSE”, and how “senior and middle managers were more focused on dealing with offences such as burglary and vehicle crime”, the understandable anger of victims will be matched by the incredulity of the law-abiding public.
For, while Shaun Wright was forced to resign as South Yorkshire’s crime commissioner over this scandal, the new IOPC report effectively confirms that the public interest was betrayed by disciplinary processes that were unfit for purpose.
And the consequence is the hard-earned reputations of the vast majority of frontline officers, public servants doing their best to protect local communities, being put at risk by South Yorkshire Police’s failure to act against those officers whose decisions betrayed every victim of CSE.
As such, this is a watershed report which must lead to the law being strengthened if this is what is required to hold all officers to account if their actions fall short of the high standards rightly expected of them.
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