South Yorkshire detectives drafted in to boost numbers in public protection unit

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Police chiefs have announced the creation of 62 new posts to tackle child sexual exploitation, child abuse and domestic abuse.

They will also be responsible for the management of sex offenders.

Bosses at South Yorkshire Police say the public protection unit has been ‘restructured’ because of ‘increasing workload and responsibility’.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has agreed to invest £2.3 million in expanding the unit, with the creation of 43 police officer posts and 19 members of support staff.

There are already 62 police officers in the unit employed specifically investigate child sexual exploitation.

The newly created posts will be filled by officers and staff already employed by South Yorkshire Police as detectives.

The force hit the headlines last year when an independent report was published which revealed that 1,400 children had been sexually exploited by largely Pakistani men over a 16 year period while authorities turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.

Commissioner Billings said: “Protecting vulnerable people is a priority within my Police and Crime Plan.

“It will provide additional investigators into all areas of public protection, including adding resilience to the central child exploitation team, increasing their capacity to deal with complex and serious investigations.

“This investment will strengthen the unit with specially trained staff and provide much needed funds to tackle the significant increase in reported crime in areas around violence towards vulnerable people in sexual assault, rape, stalking and harassment.”

Commissioner Billings has warned that it is proving ‘immensely difficult’ to bring cases to court.

“Often the people who have been victims in the past, who were the victims of grooming, wouldn’t recognise that they were being groomed at the time, some of them don’t recognise it now.

“Some want prosecutions, some just want to go and live their lives and not have it all raked up,” he said.

“It’s very complicated and very difficult and requires a lot of sensitivity.”