A regional daily has exclusively revealed details of two reports into child sexual exploitation, following a Freedom of Information request.
Sheffield daily The Star has published information from two reports written in 2003 and 2006 by an expert who warned police that Sheffield had a “very entrenched sexual exploitation problem”.
But Dr Angie Heal said her reports were not given priority by South Yorkshire Police and said nothing was done with her information.
Her reports have now been made public following an FoI request by The Star and have been followed up by national media.
Dr Heal provided senior officers with names of suspected offenders in 2003 and her second report warned that abusers were able to carry on with ‘impunity’ across South Yorkshire, with particular problems in Sheffield and Rotherham.
She was told by one senior officer that such crimes were “awful” – but the force’s priority was burglary and car crime.
Editor James Mitchinson tweeted: “We at The Star are doing everything in our power to out every wrong that led to endemic child sex abuse.”
In an opinion piece, he wrote: “I can’t understand why anyone told about the multiple rape of children wouldn’t respond effectively to that.
“Expert analyst Dr Angie Heal was speaking as The Star exclusively reveals how police bosses were warned almost a decade ago about Sheffield’s ‘very entrenched sexual exploitation problem.’
“And nobody could put the big question we have today better than she does in that single sentence.
“Why did the authorities not take account of this warning?
“What is the point of commissioning such reports – which are meant to aid forces in pinpointing problems and seeking extra support, such as Government funding – if they go unheeded?
“It is not a police fault that there is a problem in the first place, but it is when that problem is exposed and then ignored.
“Dr Heal even provided the names of suspected offenders to officers, there on a plate, and nothing was done with them.”
The Star’s FoI was submitted under the paper’s Your Right to Know campaign, which was launched in 2012 to uncover hidden facts that affect people’s lives.
Dr Heal’s 2006 report said: “Sheffield has both an established on-street prostitution scene and a very entrenched sexual exploitation problem.
“There have been reports of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against teenage schoolgirls and adult women in Sheffield.”
Her report noted that there was a ‘reluctance’ for young victims to give information to the police and said a more ‘empathetic’ attitude was needed towards the girls.
South Yorkshire Police told the paper that the force has ‘admitted to past failings in the way it handled child sexual exploitation’ and accepts the need for a planned inquiry ordered by police and crime commissioner Alan Billings in March.