South Yorkshire Police 'must get a grip' on child abuse

David Crompton Chief Constable David Crompton and Det Ch Insp Philip Etheridge faced questions from Keith Vaz

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South Yorkshire's chief constable and one of his top officers have been told to "get a grip" on child sex offending in Rotherham.

David Crompton and Det Ch Insp Philip Etheridge were criticised by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

It comes after The Times said confidential police reports referred to widespread abuse of girls by Asian men.

The session in Westminster heard of three unconvicted members of one family being linked to the abuse of 61 girls.

'Very disappointed'

The committee members also heard evidence of a 22-year-old man going unpunished after being found in a car with a 12-year-old girl, a bottle of vodka and indecent images of her on his mobile phone.

Start Quote

Keith Vaz

The committee is very concerned and the public are very concerned”

End Quote Keith Vaz MP Chairman, Home Affairs Select Committee

Committee chairman Keith Vaz asked Mr Etheridge how many successful prosecutions there had been this year for child sex exploitation.

"None," was the answer, and just one in 2010 and eight in 2008.

Mr Vaz said: "I am very disappointed and I am very surprised nobody has been prosecuted this year ... you need to get a grip on the situation in South Yorkshire."

He added: "I want you to write to us in a month's time setting out what has been done.

"The committee is very concerned and the public are very concerned."

Mr Vaz added the force needed to approach the issue with the same rigour it was bringing to its dealings with the Hillsborough investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Thousands of crimes

The abuse of young girls in Rotherham, and also in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, came to light after a series of investigations by The Times.

The newspaper claimed documents it obtained show agencies were aware of extensive and co-ordinated abuse of white girls by some Asian men in Rotherham for which no one has been prosecuted.

The paper said a confidential 2010 police report warned that thousands of such crimes were committed in South Yorkshire each year.

South Yorkshire Police have previously denied any suggestion they had been reluctant to tackle child sexual abuse and pointed to a series of successful criminal convictions.

Mr Crompton was asked today if "ethnic origin was a factor" in the Crown Prosecution Service charging suspects. "No, it's not a factor at all," he said.

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