Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed the findings of the independent review into claims made by Conservative councillors that the Police and Council were not responding effectively to reports of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.
The independent review has found that the force’s systems, processes and meeting structures are effective and robust and that significant progress has been made in response to CSE through a strong multi-agency response. It also states that all the information provided to South Yorkshire Police by the councillors and highlighted in their briefing was dealt with and appropriate action taken.
Dr Billings said: “The Review in effect, dismisses the claims by the Conservative councillors that the response by police and council officers to CSE is inadequate. In fact, it finds the opposite to be true.
“The findings recognise that there is a multi-disciplinary team that has embedded over a number of years and works extremely well together to protect and support young people and to investigate and prosecute offenders.
“The report confirms what I know, that the Force undertakes quality investigations and has made real and significant progress over the last seven years. This is demonstrated to me through the assurance work that is undertaken by my office, my regular meetings with the Chief Constable and the quarterly reports provided by the District Commander to my Public Accountability Board. The Review also recognises the commitment and hard work of all those involved.
“There is always work to do and no one can ever relax and think that CSE is in the past, but through the reports I receive and visits I make when I speak to those directly involved, I am assured that CSE investigations and support for victims is of the quality the people of Rotherham would want and expect.
“It is my role to hold the police to account and Rotherham councillors, including the Conservatives, are represented on the Police and Crime Panel where any questions can be asked of me about how carry out this function.
“I can only assume that lack of experience on the part of the Conservative councillors has resulted in them making mistaken judgements and not understanding what is being done to identify children at risk and to discover perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“Their comments were upsetting for those staff and officers who work tirelessly to target offenders and support with great compassion the victims. This report should provide reassurance for them that their work is recognised and valued, and for the public as well.
“I strongly urge the Conservative councillors to talk to both council staff and police officers who work in this area and get to know first-hand what is being done – and then to share what they find with the public.
“We should all be very reassured by the Review’s findings.”
Note to Editors:
The Police and Crime Commissioner holds South Yorkshire Police to account on CSE through the following methods:
- regular meetings with the Chief Constable and members of the Senior Command Team
- quarterly reports to the monthly Public Accountability Board (PAB)* from the Rotherham District Commander, which includes reports on CSE (the next Rotherham report will be to PAB in July)
- quarterly reports to PAB on the forces handling of CSE through the Performance Against the Police and Crime Plan report on Protecting Vulnerable People (this was discussed at the meeting on 11 May and will feature on the agenda again in August)
- feedback from victims
- visits to the multi-agency team
*PAB meetings are held in public and members of the public are invited to submit their own questions to the PCC and to the Chief Constable
*From July (Rotherham) PAB meeting will return to being held in the district and members of the public are invited to attend.