Hundreds of suspects being investigated over South Yorkshire child abuse

Lee Crutchley, jailed for 15 years for child abuse last month
Lee Crutchley, jailed for 15 years for child abuse last month

Hundreds of people in South Yorkshire are currently under investigation for suspected involvement in child sexual exploitation, it has emerged.

Police have refused to say precisely how many suspects are being investigated - but have revealed the force currently has 173 ‘live’ investigations.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin.

Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin.

The number includes 32 probes in Rotherham, relating both to historic and current cases.

It comes as the Independent Police Complaints Commission wrote to the force’s chief constable David Crompton to demand any evidence of ‘failures or misconduct’ in relation to the Rotherham abuse scandal is referred to the body.

Details on the number of investigations currently taking place have been revealed after Professor Alexis Jay’s devastating report on Tuesday revealed an estimated 1,400 children had been abused in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Her report said ‘abuse continues to this day’ in Rotherham, with only a small number of abusers being successfully prosecuted so far.

District Commander for Rotherham, Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, said there have been ‘significant strides’ in how child sexual exploitation is dealt with by the force.

He said that in the last 12 months in Rotherham, 15 people have been prosecuted or charged with related offences for such abuse.

Those cases include that of former bouncer Lee Crutchley, from Dinnington, who was jailed last month for 15 years for sexual offences against young girls dating back 20 years.

He said: “Our recent cases have involved both female and male offenders and people from a wide range of different backgrounds including British, Pakistani and Roma Slovak.

“We will go wherever the evidence takes us. Equally we find the victims too can be from any background - there is no ‘typical victim’.”

Prof Jay’s report said there had been a culture of police treating abuse victims with ‘contempt’ in the earlier years of the period looked at by the inquiry.

No one from South Yorkshire Police has yet faced any discplinary action over the findings of the report.

Independent Police Complaints Commission Deputy Chair Rachel Cerfontyne said: “The independent report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham highlighted appalling sexual abuse of young, vulnerable children and the apparent failure of a range of public services to tackle it. The scale of alleged abuse and the suggestion that evidence about it was suppressed is shocking.

“Of particular interest to the IPCC, the report raised serious and troubling concerns about the action or inaction of South Yorkshire Police when dealing with the reported abuse over a number of years. As a result we are writing to the Chief Constable to advise him of the IPCC’s expectation that any evidence of failures or misconduct by South Yorkshire Police officers should be referred to us.

“It would then be for the IPCC to assess the information to determine whether an investigation is required and, if so, how it should be investigated.”

South Yorkshire Police said after the report was published earlier this week: “Where there is evidence that officers failed to properly investigate, or have covered up evidence, this will be referred to the IPCC.”