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Police face inquiry over Rotherham disclosures

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South Yorkshire Police face an external inspection after Rotherham MBC disclosed two reports that indicated concerns about child sex exploitation were ignored.

The 2003 and 2006 reports by police drugs adviser Angie Heal said organised gangs were abusing children. These went to senior police officers but were not acted on.

Both the council and police were criticised in last summer’s report by Alexis Jay for failing to tackle child sexual exploitation in the town. A subsequent inspection commissioned by the government from Louise Casey led to ministers sacking the cabinet and imposing five commissionersto run the council.

Police and crime commissioner Alan Billings (Lab) said: “The first reason I am commissioning an inspection of South Yorkshire Police is to ensure that their response now to child sexual exploitation captures all the issues raised in all previous reports and investigations, including those by Angie Heal.

“The second reason is to be satisfied that the response has been adequate across all districts, not simply Rotherham.”

He said he wanted the inspection led by “someone in whom the public will have confidence and who will do a thorough but speedy job”.

The 2003 report, titled Sexual Exploitation, Drug Use and Drug Dealing, the Current Situation in South Yorkshire, saw Ms Heal express concern about how council social services departments categorised those at risk of sexual exploitation as ‘children out of control’, a lesser category than ‘children in need’, which would require the allocation of a social worker.

In her 2006 report on Violence and Gun Crime, Linking Sexual Exploitation, Prostitution and Drug Markets in South Yorkshire, Ms Heal described Rotherham as having “an established sexual exploitation scene, which is described as very organised and involving systematic physical and sexual violence against the young women involved”.

South Yorkshire Police said in a statement chief constable David Crompton “understands and accepts this inspection is necessary to gain an understanding of past issues across the county and allow the force to begin the process of rebuilding public confidence”.

The statement said there had been “a significant increase in the number of police officers and staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation and we are absolutely committed to achieving justice, stopping the harm and preventing future offending”.

Meanwhile, Rotherham is consulting on tightening rules for licensing taxi drivers, after criticism that lax regulations led to abusers driving cabs.

Former Greenwich RBC chief executive Mary Ney, one of the five commissioners, said she wanted to raise standards among the town’s cab drivers.

Proposals include requiring drivers to complete training in customer care, disability awareness and adult and child safeguarding within a year of being licensed. They must also undergo background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service.


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