BBC, December 30, 2021
The force at the centre of the Rotherham grooming scandal is not routinely recording the ethnicity of child sexual abuse suspects, a newspaper has found.
According to The Times, all four South Yorkshire Police districts failed to record details.
Rotherham, where hundreds were abused by gangs of South Asian men, omitted suspect ethnicity in 67% of cases.
The force said it was seeing “increased ethnicity recording” since 2019.
The newspaper said that internal intelligence profiles produced by the force in 2019 also revealed that the town was still seen as a “hotspot” for the sexual exploitation of children.
A 2014 report commissioned by Rotherham Council and written by Professor Alexis Jay said that at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.
Children as young as 11 were raped, trafficked, abducted, beaten, and intimidated, predominantly by men of Pakistani heritage, it said.
The report said there had been “blatant” collective failures by the council’s leadership, a failure by South Yorkshire Police to prioritise the issue and said senior managers had “underplayed” the scale of the problem.
In response to the Times investigation, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would make it “mandatory for police forces to record the ethnicity of those arrested and held in custody as a result of their suspected involvement in grooming gangs”.
“Victims of sickening sexual grooming gangs have been failed by the state for decades in the name of political correctness. It remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience,” she said.
She added: “Community and cultural factors are clearly relevant to understanding why people offend and the strongest possible action will be taken against any forces who fail to comply with this new mandatory duty. I expect the police to use all powers available to them to prevent this horrific form of offending.”
In a statement South Yorkshire Police said: “We are already seeing increased ethnicity recorded in our 2020 CSE problem profile. There is an ongoing drive to improve data quality across the force, including both IT fixes and enhanced training for officers and staff. Improvements are being seen and monitoring of this continues within our governance processes.
“We fully comply with the requirements of the Home Office and will continue to do so should changes be introduced.”
In November, an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation in to the Jay report found that “many instances where crimes were not recorded when they should have been, including reports of sexual assault or sexual activity with a child”.