The biggest investigation into child sexual exploitation needs 100 more officers to tackle the ‘unprecedented scale of abuse’ in Rotherham.
More than 1,500 potential victims and 110 suspects have been identified by the National Crime Agency, and figures are expected to rise further.
Paul Williamson, the senior investigating officer on Operation Stovewood, told the Guardian his team so far had only been able to contact 17 percent of the of the 1,510 possible victims due to a shortage of specially trained detectives.
Mr Williamson also said the investigation needed to be as big as Operation Resolve, the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster, as it was comparable in terms of complexity and scale.
The number of victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has grown to more than 1,500 victims and detectives have identified 110 ‘designated suspects’ in the scandal
‘It’s a really specialist area, engaging and interviewing vulnerable victims’ he said.
‘A lot of our victims were children when they were abused but they’re now adults and have associated problems as a result of that abuse, including suicidal tendencies, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction.
‘It’s really complex. The progress will necessarily be influenced by the number of officers we’ve got on the team and we can see that.’
He added he was conscious of demands that are placed across law enforcement in the UK but that he needed 200-250 is officers to complete the task, he currently has 144 officers on Operation Stovewood.
Eighty percent of the suspects are said to be Pakistani and 90 percent of the victims are white girls. This woman says she was raped by an Asian gang in an alley not far from where she is sat
The NCA is conducting a huge investigation in the South Yorkshire town following the revelations in the 2014 Jay Report that children were groomed and abused there.
Professor’s Alexis Jay’s report sparked national soul-searching when it revealed that the large scale exploitation undertaken by gangs of men had been effectively ignored by police and other agencies for more than a decade.
Eighty percent of the suspects are said to be Pakistani and 90 percent of the victims are white girls.
Asked ‘why Rotherham’, Mr Williamson agreed that there was combination in the town of a failure to listen to and believe victims, to safeguard them and to investigate their reports
Operation Stovewood was launched after it was called in by South Yorkshire Police three years ago, and is now the biggest investigation in CSE in the UK.
It is 85 percent funded by the Home Office and 15 percent by South Yorkshire Police, and has cost more than £10 million so far.
More than 34 investigations have come out of Stovewood, and it has led to four individuals being convicted, 38 arrested, 18 charged, and two cautioned.