CSE victims suing West Yorkshire Police over alleged failures

Five victims of child sexual exploitation are suing West Yorkshire Police over alleged failures in their cases, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

By Chris Burn
Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 10:40 am
Legal action is being taken against West Yorkshire Police.
Legal action is being taken against West Yorkshire Police.

Under Freedom of Information laws, the force has also disclosed it paid £60,000 in compensation to two abuse victims after settling claims last year.

One CSE case, for which a payment of £45,000 was made to the victim and took place between 2011 and 2013, resulted in one officer being given a formal written warning.

Another payment of £15,000 was made by the force in relation to failures with an abuse case that took place between 1969 and 1975 in the North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire areas.

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Details have been revealed after The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that hundreds of compensation claims are being made against local councils and South Yorkshire Police by victims of child sexual exploitation who were let down by the authorities.

The force said it was unable to give details about the ongoing claims for legal reasons but confirmed they all relate to crimes from within the West Yorkshire area.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said the force’s approach to the issue has changed in recent years.

“West Yorkshire Police has acknowledged that historically it was slow to recognise the signs of CSE, and is very much now a victim led organisation in terms of investigating these and other offences,” she said.

“Investigating and tackling CSE is one of the most important challenges facing the police and is a priority for West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Both the police and the WYPCC are committed to doing everything we can to ensure children are safe, cared for and protected from harm.”

Information about the compensation claims against the force have now been revealed after West Yorkshire Police asked for more time to answer a Freedom of Information request last month, saying it was still determining whether it was in the public interest to provide any details.

Responses by other authorities revealed 212 other outstanding legal claims against Barnsley, Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds, Rotherham and Sheffield Councils, as well as South Yorkshire Police.

More than 45 cases against Yorkshire authorities have already been settled in the past five years since the Jay report revealed that at least 1,400 victims had been abused in Rotherham over 16 years, largely at the hands of grooming gangs involving men of Pakistani heritage.

Many of the outstanding legal claims in Yorkshire relate to the Rotherham scandal. South Yorkshire Police has settled 19 claims but has 71 outstanding cases against it, 69 of which are connected with Rotherham and two with Sheffield.

Rotherham Council has 67 outstanding claims, having settled 18 to date.

David Greenwood, a partner at Switalskis solicitors which is representing 95 victims taking legal action against Yorkshire authorities, said last month that payments were helping victims who had been let down by the authorities as children to rebuild their lives.

“Compensation is fundamental to recognising the harm done in these cases. It must be paid where councils and the police have responded badly,” he said.

Convictions 'show force has changed'

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said a series of high-profile convictions shows how the force’s approach has changed.

“To investigate these offences the force has established five interdisciplinary safeguarding units co-located with the five local authority areas,” she said.

“A number of major investigations have been mounted in recent years to bring those responsible for CSE related offending to justice, as publicised, resulting in significant numbers of high profile convictions across the force area. The force continues to work hard to encourage victims to come forward.”