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Police identify 300 possible Rotherham abuse suspects

At least 1,400 were abused in Rotherham over two decades. Credit: PA

A new investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has identified around 300 possible suspects.

Those suspected of being part of a network who abused at least 1,400 children over a 16-year period is said to include two former or serving councillors.

The National Crime Agency said its inquiry into allegations of child sexual exploitation in the town has the potential to identify "thousands of offences".

The investigation, called Operation Stovewood, was set up last year following Professor Alexis Jay's damning report into abuse by largely Asian men in the South Yorkshire town.

Child grooming ignored as it was 'seen as prostitution'

Nothing was done to help girls involved in the child sexual exploitation (CSE) in South Yorkshire because they were seen as prostitutes, a police commissioner has said.

Alan Billings, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner, said "it all went wrong" because police did not understand what grooming was or that it was child abuse.

Child grooming ignored as it was 'seen as prostitution' Credit: Mind/ Time To Change

Dr Billings was speaking after reports published for the first time revealed that police were warned around 10 years ago about the extent of the CSE problem in the county but did nothing about it.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

I don't think any of us at that time understood what grooming was and that this was grooming.

I think we saw these girls not as victims but as troublesome young people out of control and willing participants.

We saw it as child prostitution rather than child abuse, and I think that was broadly accepted and that's why it all went wrong.

A report by Professor Alexis Jay provoked nationwide shock last August when it revealed that at least 1,400 children were raped, trafficked and groomed in Rotherham.

A further review by Louise Casey, published earlier this year, led to the mass resignation of the ruling Labour cabinet and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles ordered Government-appointed commissioners to take over the running of the council.

Rotherham boss ready to don sombrero at Leeds

Rotherham are staying in the Championship. Credit: PA

It is usually players who are accused of being on the beach at this time of the season, but Rotherham manager Steve Evans has said he will turn up to his side's final game at Leeds dressed in shorts, T-shirt and a sombrero if the fans want him to.

The Millers defied a three-point deduction by the Football League to book their Sky Bet Championship survival by beating Reading 2-1 at New York Stadium on Tuesday night.

The result relegates Wigan and Millwall and means Evans can take his side to Elland Road for a Yorkshire derby with no pressure on.

The Scot, who goaded Millwall striker Lee Gregory if the aftermath of Tuesday's victory by telling him to "enjoy League One", joked before the game that if his side had achieved safety by the time they travelled to West Yorkshire he would wear his beach attire.

And speaking on Sky Sports News, Evans said he would go through with the promise if the viewers wanted it to happen.

"If you get enough tweets to the studio demanding to see me in shorts, T-shirt, sombrero and flip-flops, I'll be there in them on Saturday," Evans said. "But it has to be a response to leave me no option.

"I have got a nice pair of sunglasses I can wear.

"I'll happily have my shorts on and I'll see if I can buy a sombrero somewhere, it won't look so good!"

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Rotherham boss hits back at Millwall striker

"Look forward to League One, son, and keep your trap shut." Credit: PA

Steve Evans told Millwall striker Lee Gregory to "look forward to League One" after Rotherham secured their Sky Bet Championship survival and sent the Lions and Wigan down.

The Millers, deducted three points by the Football League for fielding an ineligible player, beat Reading 2-1 on Tuesday night in their game in hand to book their place in the Championship for a second season.

South-Yorkshire born Gregory had said he "(hoped) Rotherham bottle it" in their final two games of the season, which would have allowed his side the chance to stay up.

And Rotherham manager Evans was quick to remember those comments in the aftermath of his side's victory.

In a live interview with BBC Radio Sheffield shortly after full-time the Scot said: "A Millwall player said we've not got bottle. I've got 12 bottles of pink finest Champagne and we'll be drinking them for about a week.

"Look forward to League One, son, and keep your trap shut."

IPCC: 'Neglect' and 'corruption' allegations against police

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said allegations against police range from 'neglect of duty' to suggestions of 'corrupt relationships between police officers and offenders' amid its investigation of South Yorkshire Police's handling of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

IPCC: 'Neglect' and 'corruption' allegations against police. Credit: PA

The IPCC statement said: "Work to establish the identity of the unknown officers and to identify any links between the different complaints and incidents is ongoing.

"The allegations range from neglect of duty by failing to adequately investigate on the basis of intelligence or to deal with incidents appropriately, inappropriate comments and suggestions of corrupt relationships between police officers and offenders."

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