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PCC: Rotherham 'desperately' needs to turn a corner

The Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Dr Alan Billings, says that he welcomes the Prime Minister's new initiatives for tackling child sexual exploitation.

However he goes on to say Rotherham 'desperately' needs to turn a corner - something which only adequate funding can achieve:

Dr Alan Billings Credit: Press Association

I applaud the Prime Minister's initiative. It will help raise awareness of the continued existence of child sexual exploitation across the country.

I became Police and Crime Commissioner as a result of child sexual exploitation issues and it is a top priority for me. Therefore, I welcome any new measures that will help to strengthen the systems in place to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation and to bring more offenders to justice. I will do whatever I can to enable South Yorkshire take advantage of any new funding being offered.

We should not forget, however, the measures that have already been taken.

For South Yorkshire Police I have committed 62 additional staff to work in the unit that deals with child sexual exploitation. This is a big commitment and comes on top of other posts agreed last year. It would be helpful if the government recognised this by funding these posts otherwise, with big reductions in the police grant this year, resources will have to be diverted from elsewhere in the police budget to pay for them.

I have also formed a victims and survivors panel as a result of which we are building a picture from their perspective of how policing can be improved if they are to be helped sensitively and effectively.

We are beginning to see in South Yorkshire many more people having confidence to come forward and speak to the police – though that remains a difficult journey for many to take.

The government needs to act speedily, however. There are organisations in Rotherham that work with victims and survivors that are struggling to keep going and need funding now.

We desperately need to turn a corner in Rotherham and that can happen if we have in place adequate funding, the right attitudes on the part of professionals and a willingness to listen to victims and survivors and learn from them. I look forward to working with the new Commissioner for Rotherham, Sir Derek Myers.

– Dr Alan Billings

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Solicitor: This is just the beginning of a war on CSE

David Greenwood, a solicitor who represents 39 victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, said:

This is not just a problem for Rotherham.

Many towns and cities have discovered painful truths that have been ignored by the police and councils.

I have worked closely with those affected by CSE for a number of years. I welcome the Government's initiatives to prioritise CSE as a national threat, to provide targeted support for survivors, ensure that authorities work together more effectively, and to impose criminal sanctions for professionals' failures to protect children.

This is just the beginning of a war against exploiters. There are still many stories to emerge and abusers are still walking the streets. Without sustained effort, a generation of children are at risk of having their lives ruined.

– David Greenwood

South Yorkshire Police: "Significant increase" in officers investigating CSE allegations

South Yorkshire Police say the level of scrutiny around their role in the reported 1,400 cases of child sexual exploitation uncovered in the Jay Report last August is 'completely understandable'.

The force say there has been a "significant increase" in the number of officers investigating child sexual exploitation cases:

There has been a high level of scrutiny around the way South Yorkshire Police has handled child sexual exploitation in the past and we completely understand and accept this needs to take place.

This scrutiny includes an ongoing independent investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and being held to account by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings.

There has 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.

However, we accept more needs to be done and we continue to invest in further training to ensure we continue to improve our service to victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation.

Between April 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, the force received reports of 213 child sexual exploitation-related offences.

Following thorough investigations, 45 people were charged or summoned to court in connection with 49 of those offences.

A number of complex investigations are still ongoing into many of those offences.

– South Yorkshire Police

Public officials could face jail for neglecting abuse victims

Councillors and senior public officials could go to prison for up to five years if they fail to protect children from sexual exploitation, under new plans being considered by the government.

Up to 1,400 children are believed to have been subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham. Credit: Press Association

Under the proposals, being considered by David Cameron and currently subject to consultation, the crime of "wilful neglect" will be extended to cover children's social care and education.

Individuals and organisations found to have let children down could also face unlimited fines if the plans are passed into law.

The measures have been announced as the Prime Minister chairs a child protection summit of police officials and local authorities at Downing Street after a series of damning reports detailed the sexual exploitation of up to 1,4000 children over many years in Rotherham.

Child sex abuse has been has been prioritised as a "national threat", putting it on a par with serious and organised crime and meaning police forces, chief constables and police and crime commissioners have a duty to collaborate with each other across boundaries to safeguard children.

Government pledges £1.2m to protect children from sexual exploitation

The government has pledged £1.2m to tackle child sexual exploitation in South Yorkshire.

Prime Minister David Cameron will announced the funding today Credit: Press Association

Prime Minister David Cameron will announced the funding today at a summit in Downing Street in the wake of the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.

H will also announce tough new measures to protect children against exploitation, including harsher punishments for public sector officials who fail to protect children.

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Three bailed over child sexual exploitation charges

Three men arrested yesterday as part of an investigation into allegations of child sexual exploitation in Sheffield and Rotherham have been released on bail.

The men, aged 21, 23 and 28-years-old, were arrested on suspicion of committing a number of sexual offences against underage girls between 2005 and 2009 in Sheffield and Rotherham.

The men have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

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