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Rotherham police did not do enough to protect girls from abuse by Asian men, says watchdog

Press Association
Police did not act for fear of stoking racial tensions, the watchdog said - AFP

A police watchdog has upheld complaints from a victim of child sexual abuse in Rotherham, saying South Yorkshire Police did not do enough to protect her from abuse by Asian men, it has been reported.

The woman, who was a child at the time, was abused over several years from 2003, The Times said.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld six complaints by the woman against the force, according to a leaked confidential report quoted by the newspaper.

The watchdog said it was "very clear that you were sexually exploited by Asian men" and upheld a complaint that police "took insufficient action to prevent you from harm", The Times said.

A chief inspector, who the paper said the IOPC had been unable to identify, is alleged to have said the force was aware abuse had been taking place for some 30 years, adding: "With it being Asians, we can't afford for this to be coming out."

The girl's father told The Times a senior officer had spoken about his daughter "as though she was an adult doing it of her own free will" and that he had confronted the policeman to say "she was a child and this was child abuse".

Steve Noonan, IOPC's director of major investigations,  said: "We are continuing to make significant progress with Operation Linden and we have completed more than 90% of the enquiries we have identified so far.

"A small number of investigation reports still need to be completed and our investigation into the actions of the former senior command team at South Yorkshire Police during the period of our investigation continues and is progressing well.

"Our priority throughout the investigation has, and always will be, the welfare of the many survivors of child sexual abuse we have been engaging with. As their individual cases conclude we provide them with a personal update on our findings.

"At the conclusion of all of our investigations we intend to publish an over-arching report covering all of the findings, outcomes and learning from our work on Operation Linden."

The newspaper said South Yorkshire Police had accepted the watchdog's findings, adding that the unnamed chief inspector's alleged comments were "not something we tolerate in today's force".

Earlier this week, a damning report into Greater Manchester Police's 2004 investigation into Asian grooming gangs preying on vulnerable girls in Manchester revealed senior officers suspected young girls were being abused "in plain sight" by the gangs but did nothing to help.