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On Wednesday (22nd June) the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) released its ‘Operation Linden’ report, publishing the results of a series of investigations into how South Yorkshire police handled allegations of child sexual abuse and exploitation between 1997 and 2013.
The report, which took 8 years to complete and cost £6m to produce, details the substantial failings of South Yorkshire Police and highlights how victims and survivors were let down by the force, who failed to protect vulnerable children and prevent further abuse. It also outlines how officers failed to act with any empathy towards victims, with some officers treating vulnerable girls as if they consented to their own exploitation.
Despite lengthy and extensive investigations from the IOPC, including the investigation of 47 police officers, not one officer lost their job as a result of the process.
Chief Executive of Rape Crisis England & Wales, Jayne Butler says:
Thousands of children were groomed and sexually abused in Rotherham, and the police response was to dismiss, blame and ignore them. Another report highlighting the failings of the police does not provide justice for victims and survivors. The Jay Report had already highlighted that the response from South Yorkshire police was unacceptable, what we need to see now is some accountability. While victims and survivors are living with the impacts of horrific sexual abuse, the police officers who failed them so monumentally, have avoided any repercussions.
The culture of South Yorkshire Police towards those subjected to child sexual abuse epitomises rape culture, that is the casual acceptance and minimisation of rape and sexual abuse. We see rape culture being further perpetuated by the lack of accountability and proper governance that should normally hold individuals to account. We should all be asking, in what other workplaces can you maintain your position, when you have failed to such a significant extent, and where failings have such severe consequences? We must not accept that police officers can act with impunity while victims pay the price.
We stand in solidarity with the brave girls and women who have been fighting for years to see justice and advocate for change.