South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings has today (Wednesday 30 September) launched a review into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of reports of child sexual exploitation.
The review was announced in March this year, following the Alexis Jay and Louise Casey reports that highlighted the scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and a BBC report that alleged child sexual exploitation in Sheffield had been ignored by South Yorkshire Police.
The review will be led by Professor John Drew and will look at how the Force has handled reports of child sexual exploitation to ensure that everything that can be reasonably known about the past is known.
Led by Professor Drew, the report will establish whether South Yorkshire Police has understood and acted upon the findings of reports and inspections into matters of child sexual exploitation. It will also look at whether the Force’s response to safeguarding children and young people has been adequate, not just in Rotherham but across the whole of South Yorkshire.
In setting out the terms of reference for the review, Dr Billings has considered the scope of other ongoing investigations and inspections by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to avoid unnecessary duplication as well as the ongoing criminal investigations by South Yorkshire Police and pending prosecutions the Crown Prosecution Service.
The review will focus initially on Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield, with Rotherham being looked at later in the process to ensure that it does not prejudice ongoing investigations and proceedings.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I want to be certain that South Yorkshire Police has genuinely acknowledged and fully addressed non-recent, as well as present day, occurrences of child sexual exploitation. I want to be assured that there was nothing happening in Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley that was in any way similar to what was happening in Rotherham, and to be certain that plans are place to ensure that nothing like this can happen again.
“I have asked Professor Drew to look thoroughly across the force but without overlapping the other ongoing investigations and inspections that are taking place, and report back to me with his findings early in the New Year.”
“I am eager for this review to be fast yet thorough to enable South Yorkshire Police to start to move forward and for public confidence in the force to be restored. The Force has many hard-working and dedicated officers and members of staff who are tirelessly chasing an end to the sexual exploitation of young people and I need to know that these officers and staff are supported to carry out their duties to the very best of their abilities.”
A website has been published which outlines more details of the review and to provides a mechanism for members of the public, victims and survivors and former and serving police officers to input into the review to share their experiences and information.
Professor John Drew will be supported in his review by a small team of specialist advisors who will be assisting with the research and interviews.
Professor Drew said: “Over the last couple of months I have been working closely with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to look at the scope of the review and prepare the ground ahead of the start of the review today.
“I will be looking closely at the practices of South Yorkshire Police to ensure that what happened in Rotherham did not happen across the other three districts and that the lessons learned from the Jay and Casey reports have been acted upon and implemented.
“I am keen to hear from anyone who has any information that will assist my review either by email or in person and would encourage people to get in touch through the website.”
Anyone with any information should visit the website: www.drewreview.uk and complete the contact form.
A report will be presented to the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and will be made public early in 2016.
Further details on what South Yorkshire Police is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation and information on the current charges and prosecutions please visit: www.southyorks.police.uk/help-and-advice/child-sexual-exploitation
For further information visit the Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner website.