Over the last two months, 40 Pakistanis aged between 29 and 53 have been arrested or subjected to inquest by British police over child sex abuse in Rotherham.
According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), 38 men and two women from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were questioned by law enforcement about exploitation committed on 13 victims between 1997 and 2015 when they were 11 to 26 years old.
The NCA revealed that all suspects were released or bailed as investigations progress.
Carl Vessey-Baitson, the NCA spokesman, said it has been a challenging and complex investigation:
“Arresting such a large number of individuals, as part of one Stovewood sub-operation, shows our desire to listen to victims and bring offenders to justice is not wavering.”
The investigation tagged as Operation Stovewood was prompted after independent research called the Jay Report exposed sexual exploitation, trafficking and rape of more than 1,400 mainly working-class white girls.
The Jay Report also revealed that the authorities in South Yorkshire including the police, social services and the Labour-controlled local council did not dig deeply into these issues for fear of being called “racists”.
Vessey-Baitson said that during the investigation, the victims had to relive their awful experiences at the hands of their Muslim captors:
“To date we have engaged with over 410 victims and survivors and have arrested or interviewed by appointment 94 suspects, meaning this is the largest law enforcement investigation into non-familial child sexual abuse and exploitation ever undertaken in the UK.”
“Conducting such an investigation can only be achieved with the support and co-ordination of our partners, and South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council continue to provide invaluable assistance,”
To date, seven Pakistani men were found guilty of sexual offences against young white girls in the latest abuse trial.
A jury at Sheffield Crown Court found seven men, six of Pakistani heritage and one of Yemeni heritage, guilty of the historic sexual abuse of five vulnerable underage girls.
The NCA reported that Operation Stovewood had resulted in only 14 successful prosecutions.