South Yorkshire Police failed to act on child abuse allegations in Sheffield

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South Yorkshire Police knew that hundreds of girls were at risk of abuse in Sheffield but failed to investigate, it has been claimed.

The BBC has reported that a former police officer alleges the force has evidence that hundreds of girls were facing sexual exploitation in Sheffield in recent years, but failed to investigate many of the allegations.

He also claims he received direct orders to abandon his inquiry into child abuse.

The BBC reported that a copy of a document from South Yorkshire Police’s intelligence database details more than 200 girls in Sheffield who were suspected of being sexually exploited. It also lists more than 320 men accused of carrying out abuse, mainly between 2007 and 2010.

A Sheffield MP has tonight called for a full investigation into the claims.

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East and chairman of communities and local government committee said: “In the Committee’s evidence session with Louise Casey, I asked about the position of the police and their role and responsibility in the failure to tackle child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

“This latest story shows the police need to be fully held to account for their actions. South Yorkshire Police now need to accept the same level of responsibility as Rotherham local authority did and submit to an inspection along the lines of that conducted by Louise Casey.

“The CLG Committee’s inquiry on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham heard from a number of witnesses including Louise Casey. We will publish our report next week with a number of recommendations relating to local government scrutiny and the role of Ofsted”.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion tweeted: “Very very disappointed to hear that South Yorkshire Police let down the children of Sheffield too, but sadly not surprised.”

In October, Ann Lucas, who ran the city’s sexual exploitation service, has said details about alleged abusers were passed regularly to senior officers - but they failed to act. She said she was told the issue was not a priority for the force.

Between 2001 and 2013 more than 660 young people, mainly girls, some as young as 11, were referred to Sheffield’s sexual exploitation service.

Ms Lucas, who ran the project until she retired in 2012, said her team had passed to the police information including the names of perpetrators and their car registration details - but no prosecutions followed.

Ms Lucas then says she took her information to the Human Trafficking Centre, whose officials asked South Yorkshire Police to investigate the claims.

The force then launched Operation Glover, which led to six men being convicted, including Aziz Hamed and Ajad Mahmoud who were each sent to prison for 10 years for serious sexual offences.

South Yorkshire Police said it has secured several convictions in recent years for child sexual exploitation and a number of inquiries are ongoing.

It said that it is committed to arresting and charging people where there is evidence to do so.

It added: “We have developed strong processes to ensure all information and intelligence received about sexual exploitation is collated, shared with partners and reviewed on a very frequent basis to see if any further action can be taken.”