24 June 2015
Operation Stovewood is an independent National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into non-familial child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). It began in December last year at the request of South Yorkshire Chief Constable, David Crompton.
The Officer in Overall Command of Operation Stovewood, NCA Director Trevor Pearce, said stage one of the investigation was now nearing completion.
“Operation Stovewood is investigating allegations of non-familial abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, the period covered by the Alexis Jay Report, which was published in August last year.
“We have undertaken a massive information gathering exercise during the past six months. We have taken possession of information from South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Council and identified and spoken to other individuals and agencies who may also hold information of relevance to our investigation,” said Mr Pearce.
“We have 47 boxes of written material from ‘Risky Business’ alone. These boxes contain nearly 1,500 files and the content of each has been reviewed and is now being indexed, read, assessed and entered into a Major Incident Room system.
“This will enable us to identify links to information from other sources and within other investigations. Last week alone, we took possession of a further 45 boxes of material that will also now be assessed,” he said.
An examination of the material reviewed by Operation Stovewood so far has identified a significant number of potential offenders. The current figure is in the low hundreds.
“It is clear that some details provided will be duplicates of other details, names, nick-names or street names. Others may not prove to be offenders at all, or may be witnesses to abuse,” said Mr Pearce.
“The information established from these reports will form part of the investigation and it will be some time before we are able to put a more precise figure on the number of people who have been involved, directly or otherwise, in the grooming and sexual exploitation of children,” he said.
Steve Baldwin, Senior Investigating Officer for Operation Stovewood, said more than 3,300 lines of enquiry had already been identified for Operation Stovewood and other operations under direct NCA leadership.
“The abuse that has taken place in Rotherham is horrific. We have gathered a huge amount of information which details some very disturbing events.
“Work to identify all victims of non-familial CSEA in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 is ongoing. I would say that Alexis Jay’s estimate of 1,400 victims remains a very good assessment.
“We will prioritise action against suspects who may continue to pose any risk of harm today and those who have caused most harm in the past. We will examine all allegations of abuse and, most importantly, we will listen to victims.
“I know that there are more victims yet to be identified and for us to reach out to. Progress will be best achieved at present by tackling what we have now and demonstrating through our actions that we deserve the trust and confidence of others,” said Mr Baldwin.
The NCA is working with South Yorkshire Police, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, local health agencies, the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and others to tackle past non-familial CSEA in Rotherham; identify offenders and ensure that victims and witnesses have access to advice, information and appropriate support.
Operation Stovewood currently has 32 officers working on it. This is expected to increase over the next couple of months and continue to flex according to the needs of the investigation.
A review of three existing South Yorkshire Police investigations into non-recent CSEA has also taken place as part of stage one, the outcome of which were shared with the force and published in April.