Rotherham grooming investigation: No officers lose their jobs
The police discipline system has delivered “zero accountability” a solicitor representing survivors of abuse has said after no officer investigated in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation (CSE) scandal lost their job.
The clearing of former detective David Walker of all allegations against him marks the end of the planned actions against South Yorkshire Police officers in the wake of the revelations that more than 1,400 children were groomed, trafficked and sexually abused.
Walker was one of 47 officers and former officers who were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in the wake of the 2014 Jay Report, which described the extent of CSE by gangs of men in the South Yorkshire town.
The IOPC has yet to publish its final report into the investigation it called Operation Linden, which is the second largest operation carried out by the watchdog after its Hillsborough inquiry.
In November the IOPC said that, of the 47, eight were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six had a case to answer for gross misconduct.
Of these, five have faced sanctions from management action up to a final written warning.
Walker’s hearing, which finished on Thursday, was the only outstanding hearing.
The IOPC said Operation Linden began in 2014 and included 91 separate independent investigations, involving 265 separate allegations, covering the period from 1997 to 2013.
These included 51 complainants, 44 of whom were survivors of abuse, the commission said.
Solicitor David Greenwood, who represents a number of Rotherham CSE survivors, told the PA news agency: “It’s extremely disappointing that despite the best efforts of the brave women I represent, the police discipline system has delivered zero accountability.
“The system seems to be stacked against those who complain.
“South Yorkshire Police had already lost the trust of survivors of exploitation and I doubt whether their trust will ever be regained following this system failure.”
IOPC director of major investigations Steve Noonan said on Thursday: “We now need to consider the judgment and any potential impact on one ongoing investigation as part of Operation Linden before we will be able to publish our report, which will cover 91 investigations completed so far.
“This has been an extremely complex piece of work – the second biggest operation we have ever carried out – and it is our aim to publish this report as soon as we reasonably can.
“Our priority remains the welfare of the survivors who took the difficult decision to come forward. They have shown a great deal of bravery both prior to and throughout our investigations and we must be respectful of the experiences they have gone through.”
Not all of the officers have been dealt with in public misconduct hearings.
One officer who did appear before a panel was Dc Ian Hampshire, who last year admitted failing to properly investigate allegations made by a teenage girl that she had been raped by multiple men in 2007.
The panel decided Dc Hampshire should be issued with a final written warning rather than being dismissed after hearing that his conduct in relation to the girl was part of a much wider failure by South Yorkshire Police to deal with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham at the time.
Although the IOPC is yet to publish its full Operation Linden report, it issued a “Learning and Recommendations” report last year which said that police must listen to the survivors of the Rotherham scandal if they are to learn from the past.
The report made 12 national and local recommendations to tackle systemic issues identified and help improve the treatment of those who come forward to report abuse.