South Yorks: Commissioner demands more effort to fight child sex exploitation

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Shaun Wright says the Chief Constable must ‘act immediately’ to improve the response of the force to child sexual exploitation in the wake of a report raising serious concern about the quality of protection it provides for children across the region.
Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South YorkshireShaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire
Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire

Mr Wright commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to assess the effectiveness of the force’s approach to protecting children from sexual exploitation and to develop recommendations for improvements and its findings were published this week.

Inspectors say the force is committed to tackling child sexual exploitation but an inconsistent approach across the force area gave them ‘serious concern’ about the quality of protection children receive.

Among the areas for improvement, the report says that the leadership provided by the Chief Constable for child sexual exploitation was ‘unclear’ to many police officers and staff.

HMIC says that ‘as a matter of urgency’ the force must put the strategic priorities of the PCC in the area of child sexual exploitation into operational delivery on the ground, adding, ‘this situation must not be allowed to continue.’

Mr Wright said that whilst he was pleased the report recognised the commitment and efforts of front-line staff, he was ‘extremely disappointed’ that the force had failed to translate his strategic priority into operational effectiveness.

“This current situation has to change,” he said. “The report makes a number of recommendations, with the most urgent to be implemented immediately and others within three and six months.”

“I fully support the recommendations and have instructed the chief constable that he must ensure they are in place within the time frames set out by the inspectors.”

“The commitment and effort of officers and staff on the front line of this most heinous of crimes is fully appreciated by me and rightly recognised by the inspectors.”

“However, there is clearly a failure of management to turn a key strategic priority into operational effectiveness uniformly across the whole force area.”