The UK’s biggest ever investigation into child abuse is to move into a new phase in the next few months, the National Crime Agency has announced.
Operation Stovewood, which began in 2014, is investigating non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham which took place between 1997 to 2013.
So far NCA officers have made more than 200 arrests and secured 26 convictions, with more than 50 active investigations ongoing under the Stovewood banner.
While the NCA remains committed to seeing those through to the end of the criminal justice process, which is anticipated to continue into 2027, from 1st January 2024 the agency will no longer adopt any new investigations.
NCA Stovewood Head of Investigations Philip Marshall said:
“During the course of the last nine years we have identified more than 1,100 victims and made contact with as many of those as possible.
“Some, for reasons that are entirely understandable, have decided not to engage with us. We respect their decisions.
“We are now confident that we have done all we realistically can to identify those individuals who may have been victims during the Stovewood time period.
“As a result, from the start of 2024, the NCA will no longer open any new investigations, and any new allegations will be investigated by South Yorkshire Police.
“This does not mean we are walking away. We will continue to investigate in the cases we have already opened, and victims should know we will continue to treat them as a priority.
“We remain determined to seek justice for as many victims as possible and we will continue to work with partners including the CPS to bring as many offenders to justice as we can.
“Both the NCA and South Yorkshire Police are determined this process should be as seamless as possible, and we’re confident that should anyone new come forward after 1st January they will still be supported in exactly the same way.”
Operation Stovewood remains the single largest law enforcement operation of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, unprecedented in scale. Those convicted so far have been handed jail sentences totalling more than 260 years.
Last week Neil Cawton, 68, from Rawmarsh became the 26th person convicted since Stovewood began, as he was sentenced to ten years in prison after being found guilty of nine separate child sex abuse offences committed against four victims between 2006 and 2012.
28 November 2023