Sheffield & South Yorkshire

PCC Alan Billings plea over child sex exploitation

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings with South Yorkshire Police officers Image copyright Sypcc
Image caption Commissioner Billings has called on victims of child sexual exploitation and former South Yorkshire Police officers to come forward

Child sexual exploitation victims and former police officers have been urged to come forward by South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Dr Alan Billings became PCC last year after Shaun Wright resigned in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

Dr Billings ordered an inspection of his force after revelations last week that child sexual exploitation occurred in Sheffield as well as Rotherham.

He said he would treat all approaches with sensitivity and respect.

'Turbulent time'

South Yorkshire Police has been in the headlines about the Hillsborough inquests, an investigation into the miners' strike at Orgreave and issues around child sexual exploitation.

Dr Billings said the last four months had been a "turbulent time" for the force, but that a "slow drip-feeding of information" about child sexual exploitation cases made it "very difficult to form a realistic assessment of what had happened".

He said: "As Police and Crime Commissioner I urge any past employee to come forward now. I assure them that they will be listened to and taken seriously.

"Similarly, I urge any victims or witnesses to get in touch with the police, or, if they are nervous about doing that, to contact my office. They will be treated with respect and sensitivity."

Dr Billings said 62 additional officers had been put to work in the Public Protection Unit, which deals with investigating child sexual exploitation.

He said all the force's officers, not just those in the unit, should be trained in dealing with vulnerable people at risk of abuse.

Dr Billings said South Yorkshire Police had now "left a place of denial and was more willing to uncover and face up to the truth - the first and necessary step in turning a corner".

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