Rotherham child sexual abuse: Detective avoids sack over gross misconduct charge

From ITV News

The first detective to face a disciplinary hearing over an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham has avoided being sacked. A disciplinary panel said he should not be held personally accountable for the “systemic failings” of South Yorkshire Police.

Dc Ian Hampshire admitted failing to properly investigate allegations made by a teenage girl that she had been raped by multiple men in the town in 2007 when he was a trainee detective, at the start of a two-day police misconduct hearing in Sheffield.

Jason Pitter QC, for Dc Hampshire, argued that his client’s admitted failings in relation to the girl had ‘to be considered in the context of systemic failings within South Yorkshire Police at the relevant time’. He said Dc Hampshire was a trainee detective in 2007 and was operating in an atmosphere of high workloads and poor supervision. The barrister said there was a mindset in the force at the time which regarded complainants like the girl as having inappropriate relationships with boyfriends who showered them with gifts, which he said was ‘a failing culture in relation to offences of this nature’.

…the panel accepted Dc Hampshire was working in a unit with ‘poor culture’, creaking workloads and with very limited supervision for junior officers. He said this ‘affected the conduct of all the officers in the unit’ and that the detective was ‘one officer in a unit that seriously failed to protect the most vulnerable’, which was a matter of ‘enormous public concern’. The chairman said Dc Hampshire’s leaders and supervisors ‘bore considerably more responsibility’ for these overall failings than he did.

A disciplinary panel decided Dc Hampshire should be issued with a final written warning rather than being dismissed after hearing that his conduct in relation to the girl was part of much wider failure by South Yorkshire Police to deal with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham at the time.  I can see the fairness in that, so long as the investigation does persue the big fish responsible for the overall policy that the young trainee, as he was been then, was probably encouraged to follow. 

The hearing heard that Dc Hampshire exemplary record from the last 14 years, including being commended for another high-profile and complex investigation that involved dealing with child victims.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched Operation Linden into police conduct in relation to the scandal – the organisation’s second-biggest inquiry after the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster – but this report has not yet been published.