South Yorkshire: More than 650 child sexual exploitation referrals in under a year

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More than 650 suspected cases of child sexual exploitation have been referred to South Yorkshire Police in less than a year, new figures reveal.

Between April 2014 and February 2015, 188 reports were made in Sheffield, 176 in Barnsley, 134 in Doncaster and 132 in Rotherham.

There were a further 28 reports linked to grooming incidents believed to have happened across more than one district of South Yorkshire.

All the referrals have been investigated, with 244 offences recorded across South Yorkshire - 74 in Doncaster, 68 in Rotherham, 64 in Sheffield and 38 in Barnsley.

As a result, 38 people have been charged or summoned to court, with three given a caution.

Police said a number of investigations are still ongoing and further charges will be brought.

Details have been released by South Yorkshire Police as part of its efforts to raise awareness about child sexual exploitations and the force’s work.

One victim said a planned investigation into the conduct of the force is needed to restore public confidence.

“I do think the police are sometimes a little bit stuck because they have to abide by the law and everybody blames them when it is partly down to the CPS,” she said.

“There have been 244 offences and only 41 have been charged – that means some are walking about scot-free.”

She added: “I don’t think people trust the police still. A report needs to be done so the past can be dealt with.”

“The council are now starting to get on board and put things in place.”

There are 189 live investigations still running across the county.

Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP and former Home Secretary David Blunkett spoke of his ‘sadness’ at the length of time it took police officers concerned about the way child sexual exploitation was handled in the city to speak out.

He said: “I am extremely sad that those who provided further worrying revelations felt unable to do so earlier, including ex-police officers.”