Rotherham child abuse: South Yorkshire Police officers ‘may still be held accountable’

 

crime correspondent

The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire police, David Crompton, apologised to the victims of child-sex exploitation in Rotherham and said officers could still be held accountable for the failures in bringing abusers to justice.

A report this week accused officers from the force of treating young victims with “contempt” and seeing them as undeserving of police protection. However, the Chief Constable said that only one of the four officers who were interviewed for the inquiry remained with the force.

Mr Crompton said he has written to the author of the report, Professor Alexis Jay, to seek a meeting to address the concerns that she had about the role of the police after she revealed that some 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period in the town.

He said: “The report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham laid bare the failings of South Yorkshire Police over a number of years. This made for painful reading, however, I am determined that we will use the findings of the report to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.”

The force has said previously that if police covered up evidence, it would be referred to the police watchdog for investigation. Mr Crompton declined to comment on the future of Shaun Wright, the embattled political head of the force, who has refused to step down despite pressure from the Prime Minister because of his role as a senior councillor involved in child-protection issues.

Mr Wright has not appeared in public since he defied demands from within his party and across the political spectrum to leave his £85,000-a-year job. “I have been in communication with him but I’m not in a position to say where he is,” the Chief Constable told reporters.

The chief executive of Liverpool city council also faces fresh scrutiny over his role in allegations of covering up reports outlining the scale of abuse of children by grooming gangs while he was in charge at Rotherham.

Ged Fitzgerald headed the administration in the South Yorkshire town from 2001 to 2003 when a Home Office researcher submitted a report that claimed senior managers were indifferent to child sexual exploitation.

The researcher was later suspended, sidelined, and subjected to personal hostility by officials, the Jay report said. The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said he would speak to Mr Fitzgerald about his role but he does not have the power to hire and fire bureaucrats and it was unclear what action was available to him.

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