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  1. ITV Report

Police response to child exploitation in South Yorkshire 'inadequate', review finds

Professor John Drew found that attempts to alert senior officers to child sex exploitation in Rotherham fell on 'deaf ears'.

Police handling of child sexual exploitation in South Yorkshire was "inadequate" and the force missed opportunities to deal with the problem, an independent review has found.

The report, by Professor John Drew, was commissioned in the wake of the Jay Report which found at least 1,400 girls were abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

Professor Drew found that several attempts to alert senior officers to the issue fell on "deaf ears" and the force were "seriously under-resourced" for investigations.

The scale of the failure in Rotherham, which has led to 55 complaints to the IPCC, was not repeated in other parts of the force area, the report concludes.

Six members of a Rotherham sex grooming gang. Credit: ITV News

Professor Drew, the former chief executive of the Youth Justice Board, made 11 recommendations including ensuring that intelligence is handled promptly and appropriately as part of a standardised procedure.

My overall judgement is that the police response to safeguarding children and young people from child sexual exploitation in the past was inadequate, especially in Rotherham.

Some, but only some, of this failure can be linked to the lack of awareness, nationwide, of child sexual exploitation in the early 2000s.

Opportunities to explore the prevalence of sexual exploitation in more detail regularly presented themselves and were regularly missed.

– Report by Professor John Drew

The author said the force had made "determined progress" since 2013 and that the police response to safeguarding children and young people from CSE was now adequate and, in some cases, of high quality.

The professor, a former director of social services, interviewed more than 150 people as part of the review, which was due to be published in January but was delayed to allow further opportunities for people to contribute.

Discussing the force's handling into CSE in other areas of the county, Prof Drew said: "I did not receive any direct accounts from victims and survivors or from other people that would lead me to believe that the scale of failure in Rotherham was repeated elsewhere."

He said child sexual exploitation in Rotherham in the 2000s was seen by police officers "a burden", while there were always officers in Sheffield who wanted to combat the crime.

"There is a world of difference between these two mindsets," he said.

The IPCC and National Crime Agency inquiries into Rotherham would not be completed until 2017 at the earliest and he criticised the slow pace, adding: "I cannot emphasise too strongly the harmful impact that this is having on victims and survivors, on police officers and staff, and on public confidence in policing."