Aim and timescales of the Independent Review
The aim of the Review is to make certain:
- a) that South Yorkshire Police (together with its partners) has understood and acted on the findings and recommendations raised in all previous reports and inspections, in the media and during parliamentary questioning; and
- b) that the police response to safeguarding children and young people has been and is adequate across the whole of South Yorkshire, not just in Rotherham.
The review will begin in September, following a period of scoping, and conclude in three months, reporting shortly after.
The scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, and the response of agencies to it, was revealed in two reports by Professor Alexis Jay (2014) and Louise Casey CB (2015). The reports make for harrowing reading, raising a myriad of questions as to how this abuse of children and young people could have gone unchecked for so many years. Both Professor Jay and Louise Casey have commented on the tendency for some individuals to deny the scale of the issue, to blame victims for their abuse+, and to discredit those that stand and say ‘enough is enough’.
Though the reports focus on Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, the references to South Yorkshire Police (‘SYP’) have raised significant concern for the Police and Crime Commissioner (‘the Commissioner’), as have revelations from parliamentary committee evidence sessions and in the media. The most recent of these revelations came from evidence heard by the Department for Communities and Local Government Select Committee (2015) and in a BBC programme televised in March 2015, featuring allegations by a retired police officer, about SYP’s handling of child sexual exploitation reports in Sheffield prior to 2007.
As a result of the on-going way in which revelations have emerged, the Commissioner has requested a ‘Casey-like’ review into the way South Yorkshire Police responds to child sexual exploitation across all four districts of South Yorkshire, not just in Rotherham. He needs to establish whether the findings and recommendations raised in previous reports and inspections have been genuinely acknowledged and fully addressed, and whether there are robust plans in place to tackle non-recent as well as present day occurrences of child sexual exploitation. As the Commissioner said when he publicly announced this inspection on 13 March 2015:
“…If I am to do my job, I need to be sure that everything that can reasonably be known about the past is known. This is the first and crucial step if the Force is to get itself into a better place.
“However, in the light of what has now been revealed I cannot be certain that we are at that point.
“Reluctantly, therefore, I now believe that a full ‘Casey-like’ county-wide review of South Yorkshire Police is necessary to get to an accepted understanding about the past and whether things have changed – which is the first step to restoring public confidence…”
From a public confidence perspective, it is important to publicise the good work that is being done by SYP Police to tackle child sexual exploitation. However, the focus must be on improving in the right things and in the right way. There are many hard-working and dedicated officers and members of staff that are tirelessly chasing an end to the sexual exploitation of children and young people. It is the duty of SYP’s senior management to make sure these officers and staff are supported to pursue new avenues, implement innovative ideas, and drive evidence-based learning. Too often there is anecdotal evidence that new approaches are hindered by obstructive working practices, silo-working by other agencies and departments, and out-dated policies.
Given the number of recent inspections and investigations into the response to child sexual exploitation which have involved SYP, it is understandable that there will be trepidation among those who are delivering frontline services about engaging with those conducting this review. However, this must not prevent a frank and open discussion taking place. It is important to remember that this is not a blaming exercise; it is about ensuring that the right improvements are made in the eyes of victims, survivors, their families, and the South Yorkshire public generally.
Terms of Reference for existing investigations and recent or forthcoming inspections by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (‘IPCC’), the National Crime Agency (‘NCA’), and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (‘HMIC’) have been taken into consideration in the drafting of these terms of reference, as has police and partner activity under the Multi-Agency Action Plan drawn up in response to the Jay report (which has been updated to cover events and revelations since the publication of the Jay report). There may be duplication between the terms of reference for the IPCC’s, NCA’s or HMIC’s activity and some of the questions in these terms of reference. However, where this could be said, the Commissioner still deems the questions in these terms of reference relevant and necessary due to the lengthy timescales involved in completing the other investigations or inspections, or the different perspective his review will adopt.
 Jay, A. (2014). Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, pp 1.
 Casey, L. (2015). Report of Inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Department for Communities and Local Government. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, pp 47.
 Jay, A. (2014). Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, pp 38.
 Casey, L. (2015). Report of Inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Department for Communities and Local Government. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, pp 137.
 Subject to the IPCC investigation
 See Appendix A
As a result of issues that have been raised in the reports by Professor Jay and Louise Casey, in parliamentary evidence sessions, and in the media, and raised with the Commissioner by SYP, partner agencies, victims, survivors and their families, serving and retired police officers, and concerned MPs, councillors and members of the public, the themed areas of this review are:-
Is the current organisational culture across the four districts a help or hindrance to future openness and transparency?
- Effective appropriate leadership
Are SYP leaders effectively driving the fight against child sexual exploitation?
Has a target-focused recording of crime mentality prevented SYP from effectively tackling child sexual exploitation sooner?
- Victim focus
Is the victim at the forefront of all policing decisions within SYP?
Is the scale of the problem confined to Rotherham, or county-wide?
- Partnership working
Do current partnership relationships allow for open and honest discussions to take place, with free exchange of information?
- Prosecutions and case-building
Has SYP encouraged case-building against perpetrators of child sexual exploitation, acknowledging the intricacies of information gathering?
- Resource management
Does current SYP technology allow for the effective recording and sharing of information and data regarding child sexual exploitation?
The review will establish whether the failings and subsequent learning from these identified by South Yorkshire Police has been exclusive to Rotherham, or is inherent across the force area.
The single point of contact for the inspection will be the Commissioner’s Chief Executive and Solicitor. At the conclusion of the inspection, a written report is to be submitted to the Commissioner.
Casey, L. (2015). Report of Inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. Department for Communities and Local Government. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Casey, L. (2015). Reflections on Child Sexual Exploitation. Department for Communities and Local Government. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
Heal, Angie (2003). Sexual Exploitation, Drug Use and Drug Dealing: The current situation in South Yorkshire. August 2003.
Heal, Angie (2006). A Problem Profile: Violence and Gun Crime: Links with sexual exploitation, prostitution and drug markets in South Yorkshire. March 2006.
HMIC. National Child Protection Inspection Programme: Methodology for post-inspection follow-up activity.
HMIC (2014). National Child Protection Inspections: South Yorkshire Police 12-22 May 2014.
HMIC (2013). South Yorkshire Police’s Response to Child Sexual Exploitation: Findings of an inspection commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
HMIC (2014). Personal communication letter to PCC Shaun Wright re South Yorkshire Police’s Response to Child Sexual Exploitation Re-visit. 25th July 2014.
IPCC (2014). Personal communication letter to CC David Crompton re the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham by Alexis Jay OBE. 28th August 2014.
Jay, A. (2014). Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham.
National Crime Agency Baker, A., Harrison, A., Barr, G. (2015). Operation Stovewood: Review Report into South Yorkshire Police investigations of Operations Clover, Mark and Monroe. 30th March 2015.
Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board (2014). Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy 2103-16: Improvement and Delivery Action Plan 2014-15
List of existing investigations and recent or forthcoming inspections
(Please note that the terms of reference for each of these investigations and inspections have been consulted in setting these Terms of Reference)
NCA – Operation Stovewood
IPCC – Investigation into South Yorkshire Police’s actions relating to receiving Child Sexual Exploitation evidence in 2004 and 2006
HMIC – National Child Protection Inspection Programme Methodology for post-inspection follow up activity
IPCC – Investigation into Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation Cases