Response to IOPC’s Operation Linden – Learning and Recommendations

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has responded to the report released today (Tuesday 23 November) by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The IOPC has been investigating since 2014 complaints from victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) about the conduct of police officers in Rotherham in the period 1997-2013- the subject of the Jay Report.

Dr Billings said: “I am pleased that the IOPC report acknowledges that police ‘understanding and awareness of child sexual exploitation has developed and improved over time’ and also acknowledges the continuing efforts made to improve the police response.

“I also note that the IOPC believes multi-agency meetings are working well to safeguard and protect children.

“In the six years since these investigations began, South Yorkshire Police has undergone a period of reflective learning and transformation and has already made progress in some of the areas the IOPC makes recommendations on. I now expect SYP to accept all the recommendations in this report and implement them appropriately. I will ask them to account for that at my monthly Public Accountability Board meetings, where CSE is regularly reported on.

“I will ask for regular updates on how training takes into account staff turnover, and how the force is keeping abreast of any emerging issues and best practice, but I am pleased the report notes the training delivered in conjunction with Sheffield University and Barnardo’s.

“The report urges the force to listen to victims but does not reference that one of the first things I did as Police and Crime Commissioner was to set up a Victims, Survivors and their Families Panel in 2014 to hear directly from those exploited and their families.

“This Panel necessarily met in private, but I have made reference to the Panel in a number of public documents. The Panel enabled me to understand how grooming worked. Although at first the victims did not want to meet the police, from 2015 they began to speak to police officers and this had a significant impact on police learning and training here in South Yorkshire.

“As far as the recording of crimes goes, I have approved funding for this to be strengthened and will be looking for improvements.

“I note the valuable role the Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) perform in supporting victims of CSE – the ISVA service being funded by my office.

“I also support – and have done for some time – the recommendation that those victims of CSE who were coerced into committing crimes should have these crimes removed from their criminal records – Sammy’s Law.”