Wednesday 22 June 2022 10:59 PM No officers were sacked despite 265 complaints over Rotherham sex abuse, report ... trends now
Failed leadership, officers lacking any ‘professional curiosity’, a culture in which underage victims were seen as responsible, IT systems ‘not fit for purpose’ and a widespread failure to record and investigate serious crimes meant the horrific sexual exploitation of children continued for years unchallenged.
Among the worst examples of police behaviour was an officer telling the father of a 15-year-old rape victim that her ordeal would teach her a lesson.
Another girl was handed over to police in a child abduction case as part of a ‘deal’ not to arrest the alleged abductor. Officers also found her and an abuser ‘half-naked’ in a bedroom with the girl hiding under the bed, but failed to investigate him.
One sexual abuse victim’s father said an officer told him nothing could be done due to racial tensions.
Details of the ‘significant failings’ by South Yorkshire Police were revealed yesterday in a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into police actions between 1997 and 2013 concerning the sexual exploitation of girls, mainly by Asian grooming gangs in Rotherham. Operation Linden was the second-largest inquiry ever carried out by the police watchdog.
It found a mountain of evidence detailing negligent, incompetent and unprofessional police work in handling sexual abuse of children, but officers either retired to escape punishment or were allowed to carry on in their jobs.
The IOPC spent eight years and £6 million on 93 investigations covering 265 allegations by 51 complainants. They investigated 47 officers and upheld 43 complaints.
Eight officers had a case to answer for misconduct and six for gross misconduct, but seven avoided disciplinary action by retiring. Despite the millions spent on the inquiry, just two officers received written warnings and three were given ‘words of advice’. The Crown Prosecution Service decided against charges in the only potential criminal case – for a data breach.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the report ‘fails to identify any individual accountability’ and ‘as a result it lets down victims and survivors’.
The IOPC report detailed dozens of complaints against police. Many officers regarded the victims – predominantly underage white girls – as criminals.
The report said their persistent fear of the abusers was compounded by a distrust of police. Some were so traumatised by the lack of help they considered or attempted suicide. When staff dealing with sexual exploitation raised concerns, they were told policing priorities lay with other crimes such as burglary and car crime.
A member of the Rochdale grooming gang yesterday said he shouldn’t be deported back to Pakistan because he was a ‘role model’ for his teenage son.
Adil Khan, 52, was jailed for eight years in 2012 after he got a 13-year-old girl pregnant. He was one of nine men jailed after the gang were arrested – a year before the Rotherham scandal.
To the horror of their victims, Khan and fellow abuser Qari Abdul Rauf have fought a seven-year battle to avoid being sent to Pakistan. The pair say it would breach their right to private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
As a final deportation hearing began yesterday, an immigration judge asked Khan what impact deportation would have on his son. He replied: ‘As you know, the father figure is very important in every culture in the world, to be a role model for the child, to tell him or her right from wrong.’
Lawyers for Rauf, 53, are also expected to argue that he has renounced his Pakistani citizenship, therefore cannot be sent back there.
Khan is representing himself. The hearing continues.
The report said a common theme of complaints was how little police understood about child sexual abuse.
Many had no training to deal with the specialist area of policing and some didn’t understand the law. One detective constable commented at a child protection conference that a girl of 12 had consented to sexual encounters, despite the law being clear that a child of her age cannot give consent.
An officer who worked in the field said that in 2008 ‘there was no concept that there was a hidden issue of children being groomed and manipulated into abuse’.
Police officers were said to ask inappropriate questions to abuse girls, such as ‘are you able to enjoy sex?’.It was also ‘accepted practice’ for child concern referrals to be written off with no action taken if there was no victim complaint.
The original Rotherham abuse report by Professor Alexis Jay, published in 2014, highlighted how authorities failed to take action against Asian suspects for fear of being labelled racist. The IOPC investigators found that was also the view of some victims.
There was awareness among frontline officers of the high proportion of Asian men