Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Police vow to bring perpetrators to justice and announce independent inquiry

South Yorkshire Police have been criticised for failing to arrest abusers

Police have vowed to bring the men who sexually abused and exploited at least 1,400 children in Rotherham over 16 years to justice.

South Yorkshire Police have announced an independent investigation into the force's handling of allegations, following findings that victims were not taken seriously and even arrested in some cases.

Chief Constable David Crompton said that an external force would examine the role of both the police and the council over the 16 years of abuse when vulnerable girls were raped, trafficked, threatened and abused.

He said: "A fully independent and impartial investigation is required to ensure that people have confidence that organisations or any individuals will be investigated fairly, rigorously and with complete impartiality.

“The investigation will properly and independently examine the role of both the police and council during the period identified and address any wrongdoings or failings, which will allow the appropriate action to be taken.

"We must give victims the confidence to come forward in the knowledge that all agencies will listen, will act, provide appropriate support, and relentlessly pursue those who offend against our young people."

The South Yorkshire police force has been accused by inspectors of a cultural disregard for victims of crime The South Yorkshire police force has been accused by inspectors of a cultural disregard for victims of crime Professor Alexis Jay’s damning report found that senior council officers, elected politicians and police officers were aware of the problem for years but failed to tackle it.

One case study revealed a girl, known as child H, was found in a derelict house with another child and a number of men but instead of being taken into protection, was arrested for being drunk. No other arrests were made.

Read more: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
1,400 children subjected to 'appalling' sexual exploitation over 16 years
Authorities' decisions to take away babies born to abused girls caused yet more suffering
The victims’ stories: doused with petrol and told she would be set alight

A Home Office researcher who looked into the allegations more than a decade ago claimed she was put under pressure to change her findings.

Speaking anonymously to BBC’s Panorama on Monday, she said: “I was subjected to most intense personal hostility. There were threats made from a range of sources. I've never seen back-covering like it and I still feel extremely angry about that.”

She said she was booked on a “diversity awareness” training course after highlighting the fact that most of the perpetrators she identified in her report were from the town's Pakistani heritage community.

Warning: Some viewers may find this video distressing

Rotherham Borough Council has refused to discipline or remove any councillors since the report was released but Labour has suspended four members who held positions of authority during the period examined.

Rotherham Borough Council was under Labour control at the time and the party has now suspended the former leader, Roger Stone, and ex-deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar, as well as serving councillors Gwendoline Ann Russell, who heads the town's scrutiny panel for looked-after children, and Shaukat Ali, a former mayor.

Mr Stone resigned after a decade in the post following the report’s publication last week, apologising for “historic failings”.

Mr Akhtar stepped down as the council's deputy leader and vice-chair of the police and crime panel last year after press reports - which he denied - alleging he knew about a relationship between a relative and an under-age girl in care.

He resumed his post after being cleared by the police of any blame but lost his seat in the May election to Ukip.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, Shaun Wright, quit Labour following the Jay Report but has refused to step down from his role, insisting he is still the “most appropriate person”.

As a former Labour councillor, he was the Rotherham Council cabinet member for children's services between 2005 and 2010 with responsibility for child protection.

Labour has instructed its group on Rotherham Borough Council to set up a scrutiny committee on child protection, including independent advisers, to help rebuild public confidence.

In a statement, a party spokesperson said: “As Ed Miliband made clear last week, large numbers of young people in Rotherham were systematically abused and then let down by those who should have protected them.

"It cannot be allowed to stand."

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence