Rotherham sex abuse officers ‘tried to disprove word of victims’



The police force at the centre of the Rotherham child abuse scandal has been accused by inspectors of a cultural disregard for victims of crime with officers actively trying to disprove allegations of some of the most vulnerable.

The findings by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) heaped further pressure on the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, Shaun Wright, who is facing demands to step down over his role in the collective failure of the council’s leadership to deal with child abuse in the town.

Last night his deputy commissioner Tracey Cheetham announced her own resignation – and piled on the pressure by saying “it would have been the right thing” for Mr Wright to resign as well.

In a further blow to the force, the HMIC report highlighted significant under recording of crimes sent to its specialist units by other agencies. “This level of under-recorded crime is a significant cause of concern and is a matter of material and urgent importance, particularly as some of these relate to violence and sexual assault against vulnerable children,” said the report.

It said that the force’s public protection unit – which deals with hate crime, domestic abuse and sex crimes – spent a “great deal of time trying to disprove the word of the victim from the outset, rather than record the crime”.

It added:  “This culture of dealing with reports of crime shows a disregard for victims and is unacceptable; it hides the true extent of the picture of crime from the force and is particularly concerning when the offences investigated by this unit are often of the most serious nature and victims are often the most vulnerable.”

Video: "Rotherham victims ignored" - Minister of State says

It said there was an “inherent risk” that vulnerable victims had been left unprotected or at risk of suffering from further crimes.

David Cameron also joined the calls for Mr Wright, a former Rotherham councillor with responsibility for child protection, to quit following the release of the report that revealed at least 1,400 children were victims of abuse in the town over 16 years.

Mr Wright, a former councillor, left the Labour Party on Wednesday but has defied calls to relinquish his £85,000-a-year job as watchdog of the force citing his championing of victims’ rights after his election in November 2012. He issued the statement just a few hours before the watchdog delivered its critical verdict.

Under reforms introduced by the Coalition Government to introduce greater accountability to policing, a commissioner can only be removed from his post if he is convicted of a criminal offence.

Labour MP John Mann wrote to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, yesterday calling for a police investigation into misconduct in public office by officials including Mr Wright.

“It is clear that as a councillor with the specific responsibility for children’s services Shaun Wright failed to act despite three separate warnings,” he wrote in his letter. “I look forward to an appropriate police investigation to determine whether such an offence has been committed and if so by whom.”

South Yorkshire Police also announced yesterday that one of its own officers had appeared in court accused of causing a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. The charge does not relate to physical contact but alleged “inappropriate communications”. The officer, Daniel Cookson who used to work in Rotherham, was first arrested in November last year and charged a week ago.

The force said that the case was not one of the 32 live investigations into child sex exploitation being carried out by the force. It denied that news of the charge was released yesterday because of the controversy surrounding its officers’ role in the failure to address the abuse.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced that Ofsted would carry out an early inspection of child protection services in Rotherham.

Nothing to see here: offences not considered to be crimes

More than a fifth of violent offences, including rape, were wrongly written off as “no crime” by the three biggest police forces in England and Wales, inspectors have found.

A number of the most  serious incidents of rape, violence or robbery were dismissed on the basis of a single phone call at the Metropolitan Police without attempts to secure corroboration,  according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Inspectors found that the force wrongly “no-crimed” 23 per cent of those serious crimes, while West Midlands Police no-crimed 24 per cent, and Greater Manchester Police no-crimed 29 per cent.

The Inspectorate has published individual reports for 21 forces following an interim report in May, which found that a fifth of all crimes – equivalent to tens of thousands of offences – could be going unrecorded by police. Reports on the remaining 22 forces will be published in  the autumn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'