The NSPCC is calling for South Yorkshire Police to learn from the mistakes it made when failing to treat paedophilia claims against a rock star seriously.
South Yorkshire Police officers ignored repeated warnings from the ex-girlfriend of Lostprohets frontman Ian Watkins that he was a paedophile - putting a young child at risk of sex abuse for months, a damning report concluded.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission found that officers in Doncaster failed to take seriously complaints made over three months by Joanne Mjadzelics, who is from the town.
She made reports to officers between March and May 2012 and later complained to the IPCC that officers failed to examine her laptop when she took it to Doncaster Police Station three times during that period.
The laptop allegedly contained an indecent image of a child that Watkins, then lead singer of the Lostprophets rock band, had allegedly sent her.
She told the force that Watkins - now serving a 35-year prison sentence for sex offences including the attempted rape of a fan's baby - was a paedophile.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “It’s clear that serious mistakes were made in the way South Yorkshire Police handled allegations against Ian Watkins and it’s vitally important that lessons are learned.
“While Watkins is thankfully behind bars where he belongs, the report’s damning conclusion that a failure to treat initial claims made against the singer seriously could have put a child in danger should be a wake-up call for all those involved.
“The force must now ensure each of the report’s recommendations are swiftly acted on and appropriate action taken.
“It’s an incredibly difficult step to report child abuse so it’s imperative that when people do speak out, they have the utmost confidence that what they are reporting will be acted upon immediately.”
South Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said the force accepts the findings of the IPCC investigation into the handling of the allegations made about Watkins.
ACC Hartley said: “Our handling of this matter fell far below the standard the public or we as a service would expect, and I would like to offer my sincere apologies to Ms Mjadzelics as she received a service that was unacceptable with no support.
“As a service, we are absolutely committed to working together to protect the most vulnerable, achieve justice, and prevent future offending. We take all reports of this nature extremely seriously.
“Ms Mjadzelics had a right to expect, and demand better from South Yorkshire Police.
“The force has made significant organisational and structural change to best serve the victims of child sexual abuse child sexual exploitation over the last few years."