NO police misconduct has yet been identified by investigators looking into officers’ roles in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, according to the police watchdog.
But the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it has identified “significant failings” in the way survivors of abuse and alleged perpetrators were treated.
The commission is looking at allegations which include 91 named police officers in the biggest inquiry it has undertaken outside its investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster.
IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said nine out of 62 individual investigations into alleged misconduct by officers in Rotherham over a 16-year period had so far been completed.
Mrs Cerfontyne said in each of these nine cases the commission had concluded there was no case to answer in relation to officers’ conduct.
But 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.”
Mrs Cerfontyne also said the commission was determined to make sure the investigation did not simply “scapegoat” junior officers.
She said the inquiry will look at the “bigger picture” in terms of what officers were asked to do, how they were trained and what messages they were given in terms of wider police priorities as well as individual officers’ conduct.
The IPCC investigation began in November 2014 three months after Professor Alexis Jay’s report concluded more than 1,400 children had been raped, groomed and trafficked in the South Yorkshire town as police and social workers stood by.
Mrs Cerfontyne told a briefing in Wakefield how an IPCC team of 25 people was investigating 211 individual allegations made by 40 complainants.
She said 91 named police officers have been identified and 30 of these have been placed under notice to inform them they are subject to investigation.
The deputy commissioner said there were still 120 allegations in which the officers referred to have not yet been identified, although she stressed this did not mean there were a potential 120 more officers to be named, as there were many overlaps in the various investigations.
The IPCC investigation has been accused of taking too long, including by South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings who recently described the length of time as “intolerable”.
Mrs Cerfontyne said: “It is entirely understandable that all those affected, as well as the wider public, want answers quickly and this is something we can all appreciate. However, our priority has to be to ensure all of the investigations are carried out rigorously and thoroughly.”
She said she hoped the inquiry would be concluded by the end of the year but said its speed was dictated by the complexity of the interconnections of the allegations, the need to work with victims at their pace and, also, the needs of the huge ongoing National Crime Agency investigation into the allegations of sexual exploitation.
Mrs Cerfontyne said: “I want to take this opportunity to offer reassurance that the IPCC has a specialist, dedicated team that is working extremely hard to conclude these complex investigations. This mirrors the approach we have taken with the Hillsborough investigation.
“Some of the emerging themes reflect the concerns raised in the Jay Report. These include findings relating to leadership, crime reporting and intelligence, as well as attitudes towards survivors and suspected offenders, and the ineffectiveness of police engagement with other agencies.”