Rotherham police prioritised burglary and car crime over child abuse

A researcher who supplied the council and police with reports detailing the child sexual exploitation problem in Rotherham was told that “it was awful but burglary and car crime were policing priorities”.

Previously unseen reports from 2003 and 2006 show that the council and police in Rotherham were warned of a “very entrenched sexual exploitation problem” yet still failed to act.

Ex-South Yorkshire Police drugs analyst Angie Heal, who compiled the reports, said she "cannot fathom" why her reports did not lead to action.

The 2003 report, released under a Freedom of Information request from the Sheffield Star, said many of those involved in running child sexual exploitation rings in South Yorkshire were involved in other areas of organised crime, such as drug dealing and prostitution.

It said at the time some of the main perpetrators appeared to be pimps and drugs dealers, including an Asian family in Rotherham and a handful of people from the Afro-Caribbean community in Sheffield.

In the appendix of the 68-page report on the links between grooming and drug dealing was a list of names of those suspected to be the main perpetrators of child sexual exploitation.

A second report from Dr Heal in 2006 warned that abusers were able to carry on with “impunity” across South Yorkshire, with particular problems in Sheffield and Rotherham.

The second 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.”

Yet South Yorkshire police again failed to act. Dr Heal told the Star that there was a mix of issues from blaming victims to not understanding the issue.

“A senior officer said to me at one point, it was awful but burglary and car crime were policing priorities set by the government,” she said.

Speaking after the reports were published, South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Alan Billings said that nothing was done about CSE because the girls involved were seen as prostitutes.

He said “it all went wrong” because police did not understand what grooming was or that it was child abuse.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think any of us at that time understood what grooming was and that this was grooming.

“I think we saw these girls not as victims but as troublesome young people out of control and willing participants.

“We saw it as child prostitution rather than child abuse, and I think that was broadly accepted and that’s why it all went wrong.”

South Yorkshire Police said it is holding an ongoing investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into misconduct issues.

A force spokesman: “There has been a significant increase in the number of police officers and staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation and we are absolutely committed to achieving justice, stopping the harm and preventing future offending.

“We have centralised the team of officers involved in ongoing investigations into non-recent allegations of sexual exploitation, some of these investigations are large scale and involve large numbers of potential victims and potential offenders.”

A Rotherham Council spokesman said the authority had been unable to find any reference to the reports having been formally considered by the council.

The authority is now run by government appointed commissioners following the mass-resignation of the cabinet after an independent investigation led by Louise Casey into the CSE problem in the area found the entire council as “not fit for purpose”.

(Image source: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

23/06/2020Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

Evolution is crucial in any business and Public Sector Executive is no different. Long before Covid-19 even became a thought in the back of our minds, the team at PS... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

public sector events

events calendar


August 2020

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6

featured articles

View all News