Forty people investigated over serious child sexual abuse in Rotherham

The NCA says Operation Stovewood is the biggest child abuse and exploitation investigation ever in the UK.

Forty people have been arrested or interviewed in the last two months over historical child sexual abuse and exploitation offences in Rotherham.

It relates to 13 victims aged between 11 and 26 at the time of the alleged offences between 1997 and 2015.

Thirty-eight men and two women were arrested or interviewed by appointment, said the National Crime Agency (NCA).

All have been bailed or released under investigation.

They are aged between 29 and 53 and from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone.

The arrests are part of the ongoing Operation Stovewood investigation into the sexual abuse and exploitation of more than 1,500 children in the South Yorkshire town.

Six trials have already been held under Stovewood since November 2017, with more than a dozen men jailed.

In the most recent trial, in October and November last year, six men were convicted of abusing five girls between 1998 and 2005 and received sentences of up to 23 years.

They were found guilty of charges including rape and aiding and abetting rape.

Carl Vessey-Baitson, from the NCA, said Operation Stovewood showed the “desire to listen to victims and bring offenders to justice is not wavering”.

He said it was the largest investigation into non-familial CSAE (child sexual abuse and exploitation) ever undertaken in the UK.

Other investigations into years of abuse of young girls in the town – Operation Clover and Operation Thunder – have seen more than 20 other men jailed in recent years.

Arshid Hussain from Goole has received the longest sentence, getting 35 years after a trial in February 2016.

The investigations began after a 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay detailed the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children.

That figure has now been updated by the NCA to 1,523.


Operation Stovewood is the NCA investigation into non-familial child sexual exploitation and abuse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, between 1997 and 2013.

 

It is the largest ever investigation into non-recent child sexual exploitation (CSE) undertaken by law enforcement and the complexity of the investigation is unparalleled.

Victims and survivors have been exploited or abused by many individuals, in locations across the UK over a number of years. The majority of suspects have offended against more than one victim and many have been involved in organised trafficking.

Paul Williamson, the senior investigating officer, said: “Our number one priority is to focus on the victims and survivors, and that will never change.

“The challenges are huge, and this is why we need more people to join us so we can do more and do it more quickly.”

The positive we can take on the shocking amout of cases we have seen come to light in a couple of years of what seems to be a weekly event is that at last the police and authorities are taking action after years of what was ultimately turning a blind eye to it for one reason or another,

But let us make it clear, we still no it is going on and that some local councils could do a hell of a lot more to be proactive in tackling it, and we are still waiting for the promised public enquiries to take place.