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Claim: Workers saw abuse victims as 'not worth saving'

Council workers failed to act on allegations of widespread child sexual exploitation in Rotherham because they simply believed victims "weren't worth saving", the former deputy leader at Rotherham Council has claimed.

Jahangir Akhtar, ex-deputy leader at Rotherham Council
Jahangir Akhtar, ex-deputy leader at Rotherham Council Credit: ITV News

Speaking to ITV News, Jahangir Akhtar rejected suggestions that workers were afraid to identify perpetrators as Asian for fear of being branded racist were "very disingenuous" and a "get out".

People did not act because they thought these young vulnerable girls weren't worth saving. I think that's a copout. That's my personal opinion.

– Jahangir Akhtar, ex-deputy leader at Rotherham Council

He said it was clear that "collectively we have failed young vulnerable children".

Police officer charged with child sexual offence

A South Yorkshire Police officer based in Rotherham has been charged with a child sex offence.

Police officer charged with child sexual offence
Police officer charged with child sexual offence

Pc Daniel Cookson, 27, appeared at Leeds Magistrates' Court today charged with causing a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, the force said in a statement.

Cookson, who was arrested in November, was charged on August 21 but South Yorkshire Police released the information only today.

The force said he was "previously based in Rotherham".

It said the charge relates to an alleged offence committed between March and November last year and Cookson was suspended when he was arrested in November


South Yorkshire Police say 'lessons have been learned' after HMIC report

South Yorkshire Police have responded to a HMIC report which says officers in unit that deals with rape and serious sexual assault spend a "great deal of time" trying to "disprove" the word of victims.

South Yorkshire Police say they welcome HMIC findings
South Yorkshire Police say they welcome HMIC findings

In a statement the force said it welcomed the findings:

South Yorkshire Police welcomes the findings in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report into crime data integrity and the opportunity to improve.

The Force has lessons to learn in the recording of crime data and we are actively working through and implementing the recommendations set out in the report.

The inspection took place between October 2012 and October 2013 and the report recognises significant improvements since then.

We note the inspector’s comment that no conclusions can be drawn from such a small sample and the report quotes an error margin of +/- 10 per cent.

We recognise that systems need improving and there is a programme in place to do so, including IT and the force’s public protection unit stand-alone system.

The report also highlights a number of areas of positive work by South Yorkshire Police.

It found no evidence of performance pressures leading to failures in crime recording and recognises the leadership team promotes data integrity throughout the force.

It is important to recognise that this report is about the recording of crime and not how we investigate crime.

The Force’s public protection unit is victim-led and officers take great care to ensure all victims of this type of crime are fully supported throughout an investigation, from the moment a report is received.

Officers working in public protection are specially trained to ensure these victims, who are often vulnerable, receive the service they need.

Lessons have been learned through previous investigations in areas of public protection and these have been put into practise.

A recent HMIC report looking at the force’s response to Child Sexual Exploitation found that the force had invested considerably in its response to CSE and increased staffing levels.

The report, which was published in July 2014, acknowledged the pace of change had been swift.

– South Yorkshire Police

HMIC blasts South Yorkshire Police over crime reports

A HMIC report into South Yorkshire Police figures has found that just under a fifth of violent offences, including rape, which were written off as "no crime" by the force were wrongly classified and should have been pursued, inspectors also found.

HMIC reviewed 66 recorded crimes of rape, violence and robbery which South Yorkshire Police had subsequently recorded as no-crime but found 11 of these, equal to 17%, were incorrectly classified.

Inspectors called on the force to commission an independent review of historical records retained by those areas of the force in which they identify a culture of 'investigate-to-record' - going back a minimum of two years.

They added the public protection unit's systems should be reviewed and where crimes have not been recorded this should be corrected and the victim should receive the service and support required.

In addition, the offence should be fully investigated in an effort to bring the offender to justice.

Read: MIC report finds SYP officers tried to 'disprove' victims

HMIC report finds SYP officers tried to 'disprove' victims

Officers in the South Yorkshire Police unit that deals with rape and serious sexual assault spend a "great deal of time" trying to "disprove" the word of victims, according to a finding by the policing watchdog.

A HMIC report has blasted South Yorkshire Police over treatment of sexual abuse allegations
A HMIC report has blasted South Yorkshire Police over treatment of sexual abuse allegations

Just days after the Rotherham child abuse report was published, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has hit out at an "unacceptable" culture within the force's public protection unit that shows "a disregard for victims".

The report said an "investigate to record" process was particularly evident in the unit, which also deals with honour-based violence and domestic abuse, adding there was "a great deal of time spent trying to disprove the word of thevictim from the outset".

It went on: "This culture of dealing with reports of crime shows a disregard for victims and is unacceptable, it hides the true extent of the picture of crime from the force and is particularly concerning when the offences investigated by this unit are often of the most serious nature and victims are often the most vulnerable."

Following recent visits to the force and an examination of crime records from November 1 2012 to October 31 2013, inspectors found: "There is an inherent risk that a significant number of reported offences of a serious nature have not been recorded and that vulnerable victims have, as a consequence, been left unprotected or at risk of further offending."

The fresh findings come as pressure mounts on South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Shaun Wright to step down in the wake of the Rotherham report, which found 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.


Council 'clearly failed young and vulnerable children'

No-one on Rotherham Council can be proud because they "clearly failed" young and vulnerable children, according the former deputy leader.

Speaking exclusively to ITV News Jahangir Akhtar said that he "wasn't around" and had not been part of the executive when reports of the abuse first surfaced.

A recent report has revealed more than 1,400 children were abused during 2005 and 2010.


Yorkshire stars in England squad

Fabian Delph and Danny Rose have been called up to the England senior squad for the first time as Roy Hodgson begins his Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Switzerland.

Former Leeds player Delph among debut England call ups
Former Leeds player Delph among debut England call ups Credit: Press Association

Former Leeds player Fabian Delph, now with Premiership side Aston Villa, will be hoping to prove he is the man to take the place of the retired midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Doncaster born Danny Rose, now at Tottenham Hotspur, will stake his claim for a left back place following the retirement of Ashley Cole.

Defender John Stones, from Barnsley, has returned to the squad after making Hodgson's World Cup standby list for Brazil while regulars Gary Cahill and James Milner have both been called up.

The team play a friendly against Norway on 3 September then take on Switzerland five days later.

South Yorkshire Police to 'digest' abuse report

South Yorkshire Police say they will 'digest' a recent report into child sex abuse in Rotherham before deciding whether to refer to the IPCC.

In a statement the force said:

Now we have the report we will digest it and the chief constable will work with the author of the report to carry out investigations into the force and if there is anything to refer to the IPCC then it will be.

Obviously we are at a very early stage - we have only had the report for 48 hours or so.

– South Yorkshire Police

SYP currently have 173 'live' child sexual exploitation investigations

South Yorkshire Police currently have 173 "live" investigations into suspected child sexual exploitation (CSE), it emerged today.

South Yorkshire Police currently have 173 "live" investigations into suspected child sexual exploitation
South Yorkshire Police currently have 173 "live" investigations into suspected child sexual exploitation

The number includes 32 probes in Rotherham, a spokeswoman for the force said.

The town is at the centre of a devastating report that found 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.

Professor Alexis Jay's report, which was published earlier this week, criticised police for not making a priority and "regarding many child victims with contempt".

In the light of the report Rotherham district police commander Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin offered an "unreserved" apology to CSE victims.

The officer said that in the last 12 months in Rotherham 15 people have been prosecuted or charged with CSE-related offences. South Yorkshire police received 157 reports concerning CSE last year in Rotherham, according to Prof Jay's report.

It was said to be clear from interviews with serving police officers that tackling CSE "was now a priority" for the force.

The report said recent operations have targeted "suspect hotels and limousine companies", while an inquiry was looking into "high-risk" missing children.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, national policing lead for child abuse investigation, said awareness of CSE has "increased significantly" in recent years.

Protecting vulnerable people from abuse and exploitation is a priority for the police service. Chief constables across the country are investing significantly more time and resource in investigating allegations of child sexual exploitation and are dealing with an unprecedented increase in reports.

In 2013 ACPO developed a national plan for tackling child sexual exploitation. This plan incorporates best practice, lessons learned from previous reviews and input from experts in the field.

In a relatively short space of time, police forces have moved from child sexual exploitation being barely recognised and understood to making real progress in ensuring that their response is effective.

Many of the recommendations in the action plan have already been achieved and the plan has been updated with further recommendations for improvement.

All chief constables have committed to delivering this action plan.

Nothing can excuse the events it describes. We have made real changes in policing to stop this kind of abuse happening and to protect young people.

Let me assure victims that if they report abuse to the police we will listen to them. We will take their allegations seriously. We will treat them sensitively

– Chief Constable Simon Bailey

Barnsley MP adds to calls for PCC's resignation

A Barnsley MP has added his support to calls for South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner to resign.

Dan Jarvis MP calls for South Yorkshire PCC resignation
Dan Jarvis MP calls for South Yorkshire PCC resignation Credit: Press Association

Like everyone, I am horrified at the appalling revelations about the abuse of young people in Rotherham.

Every effort must now be made to ensure that these crimes are thoroughly investigated, that justice is achieved for the victims and that the wider issues for our communities are addressed. Questions have also rightly been put to South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner. I believe public office is about service, leadership and trust. It’s a great privilege to serve the public but when you lose their confidence you can no longer continue to serve. There is no doubt that Shaun Wright has now lost the trust of the public and must step down immediately. Otherwise he risks further weakening public confidence in the ability of our institutions to respond to the very real challenges that Professor Jay's report has exposed

– Dan Jarvis MP
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