Rotherham polygraphs for child abuse cases

Dec 3, 2021

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) released a key statement this week. They say Police must do more to support and listen to survivors of child sexual abuse. The statement comes after investigations into Rotherham police’s responses to child abuse cases.

A report released Tuesday 23rd November made 12 recommendations to national and local police forces. The report warned that some problems identified in the 91 separate cases completed, still existed.

The investigation

Watchdog’s report studied charges of neglect by police relating to child abuse in Rotherham. The investigation is known as Operation Linden and involves looking into 265 separate cases. The cases spanned from 1997 to 2013. In total there were 51 complaints, of which 44 were survivors of abuse.

Prof. Alexis Jay. wrote a report in 2014 which launched the examinations. Jay was a former chief inspector of social work. Jay’s report concludes that politicians and the police failed to help victims. The sexual exploitation of 1,400 children by groups of men in the town spanned over 16 years. The report follows investigations carried out by the Times in 2012. The reports found that gang rape and trafficking are widespread in Rotherham.

The responses

Steve Noonan, the IOPC director of major investigations has praised the bravery of the survivors. Noonan says the victims enabled the body to “shine a light on past failings” therefore, he said that survivors of abuse would be “deeply concerned, as are we, some of these problems still exist today”. He urges the police to act on the recommendations.

“Police have a much better understanding now of child sex abuse cases. Firstly, we recognise how far the forces have come in their understanding of such cases. However, there is still work to do. We are publishing these issues to address the way we handle such cases We don’t want mistakes of the past repeated,” he added.

How to tackle the issue

Police are training their forces nationwide in polygraph testing and equipment training. Rotherham police haven’t commented on the report yet. However, they are said to be part of the new polygraph scheme. To conclude, the scheme hopes to improve the accuracy of interrogations. Most importantly polygraphs could identify cases and suspects at an earlier stage.  The last hearing is due to take place next spring. The IOPC will publish their final report once the final hearing has taken place.

To read more on the Rotherham case see the Guardians website or the BBC news website.


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