Ex-police officer ‘failed to investigate child abuse claims’ believing them ‘a matter for social services’

A police officer in charge of a unit tasked with investigating child abuse in Rotherham failed to investigate information that teenage sisters were having sex with workers from a car wash, a misconduct hearing has heard.

Former Detective Sergeant David Walker also failed to investigate intelligence that a council youth worker was passing on the names of vulnerable girls to potential sex offenders, a hearing in South Yorkshire was told on Monday.

Mr Walker, who has now left South Yorkshire Police, denies all the misconduct allegations outlined against him which relate to the Rotherham child sexual exploitation (CSE) scandal which engulfed police and social services in the South Yorkshire town.

These allegations also involve claims that he failed to record concerns made in a series of emails from Jayne Senior, who ran the Risky Business youth project in Rotherham.

These emails included information that a teenage girl had been raped by a man in the presence of an accomplice, that one suspect threatened young girls with a gun he carried in his car and that a man who had been arrested for sex offences was encouraging girls as young as 10 to visit his home.

Opening the case against the former detective, Daniel Hobbs described how Mr Walker was in charge of Rotherham Child Abuse Investigation Unit between 2008 and 2012.

Mr Hobbs told a panel of three how Mr Walker was informed by a uniformed neighbourhood officer about how he had come across a drunk 15-year-old girl whose mother told him about concerns about her daughter and her 13-year-old sister.

The concerns involved the girl forming relationships and having sex with adult males working at a car wash in Rotherham.

Mr Hobbs told the hearing that Mr Walker “did nothing with this information”.

The barrister said the former officer did not record the intelligence, did not interview either girls or make further inquiries with the officer who first reported the concerns.

He said that one record made by Mr Walker said: “This appears to be a matter for social services. Please liaise and finalise”.

Mr Hobbs said the officer continued to fail to investigate despite learning more about the vulnerability of the girls.

He said a social worker said that one of the sisters was the “highest risk case she had ever dealt with”.

The hearing also heard the allegations that Mr Walker failed to act on information from Risky Business that a Rotherham council youth worker was passing the names of vulnerable girls he came across through his work to potential abusers.

Mr Hobbs told the panel: “Det Sgt Walker did nothing at all in respect of this information and simply left any safeguarding actions arising to social services.”

The barrister said the third allegation related to the series of emails sent to him by Ms Senior which he failed to record.

He said: “Some of these emails contained serious information about rape, historic rape and people driving around with guns in the boots of their cars.”

Mr Hobbs said during his opening of the case that Mr Walker will argue that non-familial child abuse was beyond the remit of the Rotherham Child Abuse Investigation Unit he led.

He said the former officer will also argue that he had not been properly trained in matters relating to CSE and that he was under-resourced.

Mr Walker is one of 47 officers and former officers who were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

The Jay Report, in 2014, described how at least 1,400 children in the town had been subjected to grooming and abuse by gangs of men between 1997 and 2013 and outlined how police and social workers had failed to step in.

Of the 47 officers, eight were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six had a case to answer for gross misconduct, the IOPC has said.

Five have faced sanctions from management action up to a final written warning, with Mr Walker’s case still outstanding.

A full report on the findings of the IOPC’s investigation is expected to be published following this hearing.

Last year, the watchdog published a “Learning and Recommendations” report which said that police must listen to the survivors of the Rotherham CSE scandal if they are to learn from the past.

The misconduct hearing was adjourned to March 21 when the panel will begin to hear evidence.

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