Police chief to step down after force's handling of child abuse cases criticised


The chief constable of South Yorkshire has announced plans to step down just hours after another report criticised his force's past failures to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.

David Crompton, 52, will leave his post in November, according to a one-line statement on the force website and on Twitter.

Mr Crompton's four year tenure as chief constable has been plagued by a series of high profile problems, many of which began well before he joined the force in 2012.

As well as the Rotherham scandal, he has also had to deal with renewed controversy over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report in 2012, which led to new inquests.

And he has also faced a fresh campaign for an inquiry into police actions at the "Battle of Orgreave" during the 1984 Miner's Strike.

But, as well as these historical matters, Mr Crompton also found himself in the headlines when Sir Cliff Richard's home was searched in connection with an inquiry into alleged child abuse.

This controversy surrounded a deal his force struck with the BBC which led to live TV coverage of the raid, a situation an independent report found had "interfered with his privacy and may well have caused unnecessary distress".

In a very brief statement titled "Chief Constable announces retirement plans", South Yorkshire Police said: "The Chief Constable's contract runs until November. He will retire after 31 years in policing."

The announcement on Wednesday evening came just hours after the publication of the Drew Report - the result of an independent inquiry into South Yorkshire Police's handling of CSE.

It was commissioned by South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Alan Billings, who said Mr Crompton had dealt with a range of emotive issues as well as budget constraints.

Dr Billings told the Yorkshire Post: "Many would have buckled under the strain of just one of these but to carry on with the strain of all these things has been quite a challenge.

"All credit to the chief constable that he has remained strong throughout that time when a lot of people would have simply given up and walked away."

The inquiry led by Professor John Drew repeated many of the criticisms levelled at South Yorkshire Police in the 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay, which sparked a national scandal when it said at least 1,400 children had been raped, trafficked and abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

The Jay Report outlined how police and social workers knew what was happening but failed to act.

Prof Drew found that, by today's standards, the scale of response to child sexual exploitation 15 years ago was inadequate across the whole of South Yorkshire, with mistakes and missed opportunities until 2011 due to the low priority given to the crime.

But the professor said the force had made "determined progress" since 2013 and that the police response to safeguarding children and young people from CSE was now adequate and, in some cases, of high quality.

Last month, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced it was now looking at more than 194 allegations about the conduct of police relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

The Drew Report revealed that the IPCC investigations would not be completed until 2017 at the earliest, and criticised the slow pace, adding: "I cannot emphasise too strongly the harmful impact that this is having on victims and survivors, on police officers and staff, and on public confidence in policing."

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Crompton welcomed the Drew Report, saying: "I am pleased it recognises that a huge amount of effort has gone into ensuring that we deal with the mistakes of the past and learn the lessons."

Mr Crompton pointed to recent successes in fighting child sexual exploitation, including the recent convictions of a Rotherham gang who together received jail sentences totalling more than 100 years.

He added: "We note the report's recommendations and accept that there is more to be done."

Mr Crompton, 52, took over as chief constable from Meredydd Hughes in 2012, joining from the neighbouring West Yorkshire force.

Figures published by the Taxpayers Alliance last year put Mr Crompton's pay package at just over £193,778.