Man arrested on Bulgarian border over alleged indecent assault of teenager in Rotherham

Operation Stovewood was set up to investigate child sexual exploitation in Rotherham which took place between 1997 to 2013. Credit: ITV News

A man wanted in connection with the child sexual exploitation inquiry Operation Stovewood has been arrested in Bulgaria.

Shahid Hussain, 48, a Pakistani national who previously lived in Rotherham, was detained by Bulgarian police officers at a border post on 26 November as he tried to enter the country from Turkey.

Hussain is wanted in connection with the indecent assault of a 14-year-old girl that is alleged to have happened in 2003.

He was charged with offences in July 2018 but failed to appear at court.

A European Arrest Warrant was then obtained by the Crown Prosecution Service.NCA Operations Manager Stuart Cobb said: "Hussain has been wanted by the NCA for more than five years, and we were always determined that he be brought back to the UK to face those charges."We will be working with our partners at the CPS and in Bulgaria to ensure that happens, and the extradition process continues.”

Operation Stovewood was set up in the wake of the Jay Report, which sent a shockwave across the nation in 2014 when it found that at least 1,400 girls were abused, trafficked and groomed by gangs of men of mainly Pakistani heritage in Rotherham between those years.

It investigates non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that took place between 1997 and 2013.

The arrest of Hussain comes as the National Crime Agency (NCA) prepares to hand over responsibility for new investigations to South Yorkshire Police from January.

Over almost a decade of operation, officers have identified more than 1,100 victims, made more than 200 arrests, and secured 26 convictions for crimes including rape, indecent assault, and engaging sexual activity in the presence of a child.

There remain more than 50 active investigations ongoing under the Stovewood banner, with more than 300 designated suspects identified.

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