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Police & Council focus on helping Rotherham victims

The two agencies that have taken the brunt of the criticism that followed the Jay Report say their primary focus over the last year has been persuading victims in Rotherham to trust them again.

South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council say they have gone a long way to dismantle the organisational culture that allowed police officers and council officials to treat young abuse victims as wayward irritants.

Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council's strategic director of children's services, was brought in at the end of last year to rescue a beleaguered department.

He said he was as shocked as anyone by the "industrial scale" of what Professor Jay uncovered, but when he arrived in December he found a team committed to turning things around.

"There was a sense of acceptance when I spoke to people and, when I spoke to staff, they wanted to be part of the solution.

"For me, it's about really listening to what children and young people tell us and a culture of never giving up on a child again.

"We're trying to instil that but it does take time.

"We've put things in place to improve our service, improve our practice. Things are moving in the right direction but its not done yet. Progress is being made, green shoots, but there's still a long way to go."

– Ian Thomas, Rotherham Council's Director of Children's Services

The director said his team is currently supporting 2,300 children, of whom 73 are sexual exploitation cases. He said extra social workers have been drafted in and he hopes a decrease in individual staff workload will give them a better chance to do their work properly.

"Over the last 12 months, if nothing else, restoring confidence has been really, really important and we've still got a journey to go on.

"The key focus has been around the victims and survivors. We need to understand better what the issues are for them and we could have done better and what we need to do for the future."

– Chief Supt Jason Harwin, Rotherham's Police commander

Mr Harwin said he understands that the public want to see arrests and perpetrators jailed.

He said South Yorkshire Police has arrested 460 people for child abuse offences in the last 12 months with 76 of these suspected of involvement in "grooming and facilitation".

And he said 54 people have been charged with child sexual exploitation related offences across the force, 22 in Rotherham.

The senior officer said there are currently 155 live CSE investigations in South Yorkshire, with 46 of these in Rotherham.

He said there are still many barriers to bringing suspects to justice but he said his officers now had other tools, short of prosecution, to control suspected offenders, including abduction notices and sexual harm prevention orders.

"Victim Support identified a real need in victims for one familiar face to support them through the whole experience of deciding whether to report abuse, being interviewed by the police, and their case making its way through the criminal justice system.

"We are providing that consistent support through our Vulnerable Victims project, which is funded by South Yorkshire PCC.

"Victim Support's specially trained staff and volunteers offer free, confidential information and support to anyone affected by crime - regardless of when the crime took place or if the police are involved.

"Call our Supportline team on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit victimsupport.org.uk to find out how we can help."

– Lesley McLean, manager Victim Support in Yorkshire

Two further arrests following assault on elderly man in Rotherham

Two more men have been arrested in connection with a serious assault on an 81-year-old man in Rotherham.

Mushin Ahmed Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Mushin Ahmed was found with serious head injuries nine days ago in the Fitzwilliam Road area. He remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital. A 29-year-old man was arrested in the Dalton area of Rotherham yesterday and a 24-year-old man in Thrybergh early today. Two men have already appeared in court in connection with the assault.

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Missing pensioner found after overnight search

Police searching for a missing eighty six year old man have found him safe and well.

Dereck Pass Credit: South Yorkshire Police

A hugh search, involving police fire service and the South Yorkshire police helicopter was launched after pensioner Dreck Pass disappeared yesterday afternoon.

The police were concerned for Mr Pass's welfares as he had only moved from Staffordshire to the White House care home in the Rivelin Valley area of Sheffield a few weeks ago and does not know the area.

But after an overnight search he was found on Sunday morning.

Police make CCTV appeal following murder in Wombwell

Police investigating the death of 65-year-old John Gogarty would like to trace a woman who could hold vital information that could assist their inquiry.

Officers were called to a house in Marsh Street, Wombwell, at around 4pm on Friday 17 July, where they found Mr Gogarty's body.

A murder investigation is underway and officers have now released CCTV footage of a woman they believe holds significant information which could assist with their enquiries.

Our investigation is very much ongoing and we would now like to speak to this individual or anyone who may recognise her. We are working with the public to piece together Mr Gogarty’s movements in the days leading up to the discovery of his body. The woman we want to speak was in High Street in Wombwell at around 6.50pm on Monday 13 July and we believe she holds vital information that could help us. Are you the woman in the footage? Were you in the area at the time? Can you help us to identify who this woman is?

– Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley said: “Our investigation is very much ongoing and we would now like to speak to this individual or anyone who may recognise her.

“We are working with the public to piece together Mr Gogarty’s movements in the days leading up to the discovery of his body.

“The woman we want to speak was in High Street in Wombwell at around 6.50pm on Monday 13 July and we believe she holds vital information that could help us.

“Are you the woman in the footage? Were you in the area at the time? Can you help us to identify who this woman is?”

Lord Scriven calls on South Yorkshire police chief to resign

Lord Scriven, the former leader of Sheffield City Council, has called on the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police David Crompton to resign over the latest child sexual abuse revelations.

Scriven told ITV Calendar that police on the ground are not doing enough to keep children out of harm or "at least keep them in a safe place".

I've taken the view enough is enough. I said about a year ago that jury was out on the senior management team at South Yorkshire Police, including the Chief Constable. I've now come to the view, reluctantly that it needs to happen and the Chief Constable needs to go. It's quite clear that those at the top are talking a good talk but when independent people go in it shows that on the ground young people are not being believed, reporting is hap hazardous at best and that actually in quite vulnerable situations where children are at risk that the police on the ground are not taking the type of action to take those children out of harm or at least keep them in a safe place so the chief constable has to go.

– Lord Scriven

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South Yorkshire Police: There is more that we can do

South Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Ingrid Lee says there is more the force can do to address the failings highlighted in today's HMIC report.

The force watchdog said the force had made improvements over the past year, but changes weren't being implemented quickly enough.

Of the 28 cases assessed in the report:

2
Good
19
Require Improvement
7
Inadequate

PCC: Report paints 'mixed picture' of South Yorkshire Police

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner says today's HMIC report paints a "mixed picture" of the force.

Dr Alan Billings

The report says South Yorkshire Police has improved in some areas but still needs "major improvements" to child protection practices.

This report paints a mixed picture. This should not surprise us because it comes at a particular moment in time. The initial inspection was in May last year. But it was overtaken by the Jay report which came out in August. That changed everything. For the first time the full extent of child sexual exploitation was revealed. Since then South Yorkshire Police have had to look at every area of their practice, past and present.

The report shows the force where they have made progress but more particularly where improvements still have to be made. Part of my task will be to ensure that what is recommended is implemented.

– Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire PCC

Police appeal for help after murder investigation launched in Wombwell

Police have appealed for help today to find the killer of a South Yorkshire pensioner.

John Gogarty was found in his home in Wombwell on Friday.

He had suffered multiple stab wounds in what police are saying was a targeted attack.

Martin Fisher reports:

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