27 January 2015
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has appointed Steve Baldwin to lead Operation Stovewood, an independent investigation examining criminal allegations of non-familial child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse in Rotherham.
The NCA-led investigation is being conducted at the request of South Yorkshire Police and follows publication of the Alexis Jay Report.
Steve Baldwin, former NCA Head of Investigations for Northern England, is an officer with more than 20-year’s experience of investigating serious and organised crime. As Senior Investigating Officer (SIO), he will directly manage officers and staff on the investigation and report to the officer in overall command, NCA Director Trevor Pearce.
The NCA is this month establishing a major incident room, having been given management and control of secure accommodation in a South Yorkshire Police building.
Only officers and other staff employed to deliver, or support, the investigation will have access to the major incident room, which is being equipped with both NCA systems and links to access necessary South Yorkshire Police information. This may include a number of selected and vetted South Yorkshire officers and staff.
Operation Stovewood is still in its initial phase; to identify and examine relevant material held by South Yorkshire Police and other bodies in order to scope the nature, scale and requirements of its investigation.
South Yorkshire Police currently has a number of major investigations taking place into child sexual exploitation within the timescale and geographic area covered by the Alexis Jay Report. These are being coordinated by Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick.
As part of its terms of reference for Operation Stovewood the NCA is required to lead a review of all such investigations. Review activity will begin at the start of February, coordinated by NCA Deputy Director Andrew Baker.
The review team will include independent senior national law enforcement experts and advisers from the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) command and the College of Policing and it will look at all aspects of investigations, including related local policing.
The review will check compliance with current best policing practice and seek to identify the potential for additional investigative opportunities. It will also identify learning and best practice that can be taken forward both locally and by similar investigations elsewhere across the country.
The review will not examine allegations of police misconduct. These should be dealt with by South Yorkshire Police and referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) where appropriate.
During phase one, people are being urged to continue to provide information to specialist officers and investigators in South Yorkshire Police if they know about or suspect any current threats to children, matters currently being investigated by detectives, or in relation to non-recent allegations of CSE.
Anyone with information about child sexual exploitation or abuse in Rotherham should call 101 from within South Yorkshire or 0114 219 6985 from elsewhere in the country.