Dozens of suspects in two major child sex abuse investigation carried out by West Yorkshire Police have been kept on bail for more than six months, according to new figures.
The force, which last year was revealed to have more people on long-term police bail than nearly anywhere else in the country, had 716 suspects on bail for more than 180 days at one point this summer.
It has now revealed that more than ten per cent of these suspects relate to “two major child sexual exploitation investigations” it is carrying out.
West Yorkshire Police last month released details about two child sexual exploitation probes it was involved in. A spokesman said one was in Keighley, where 28 men were on bail, and the other in Calderdale, with 31 men on bail.
He said that “of the 65 currently live CSE investigations, the vast majority involve a single offender and victim.” He added: “Three investigations involve multiple alleged offenders.”
Last summer, a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that at that time 3,979 people were on bail in West Yorkshire, putting the county’s force second only behind the Metropolitan Police. A total of 859 were on bail for six months or more in West Yorkshire, several times more than other comparable forces.
The figures prompted fears that the force, which faces dramatic budget cuts, is holding off on charging because they do not have the resources to bring cases to court any quicker.
Since then the number of suspects held on long-term bail prior to being charged has dropped slightly. As of June 16, the most recent figures available, there were 3,734 people on bail in West Yorkshire. A total of 866 suspects have been bailed twice and 91 have been bailed six or more times.
West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Battle said: “Sometimes it is necessary to bail an individual several times to ensure that we have pursued every avenue of investigation, particularly where complex forensic or computer based evidence is concerned.”