The last of 47 police officers to be investigated over their handling of historic allegations of child sex abuse in Rotherham has been cleared of misconduct.
Former Det Sgt David Walker had been accused of not following up tip-offs about grooming gangs in the town.
A misconduct panel found he had acted appropriately with any information.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said the result would be a “bitter disappointment” for abuse victims.
Mr Walker, who retired in 2018, was among the officers investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in the wake of the Jay Report.
The 2014 inquiry found that at least 1,400 girls were subjected to sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013 and accused South Yorkshire Police of failing to prioritise the issue.
The IOPC found eight officers had a case to answer for misconduct and six for gross misconduct. Five have faced sanctions but to date no officers have lost their jobs or faced criminal charges.
Mr Walker, a former Maltby-based police sergeant, had been accused by Rotherham youth worker Jayne Senior of ignoring key information sent to him in emails
At the time, Ms Senior worked for council-run youth project Risky Business, which supported young people at risk of abuse.
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Senior criticised the investigation.
“We put a sergeant on the stand, where is the inspector, the chief inspectors? Where’s the people who held the budgets and could have done something and made a difference?”
She said the victims at the time had been treated in an “absolutely abhorrent” manner.
“They were seen as consenting to their own abuse, they were seen as children who wouldn’t come forward, that wouldn’t make good witnesses.
“Children don’t consent to abuse, they don’t consent to rape.”
Ms Senior said intelligence was passed on constantly, but claims it was ignored and the police attitude was “shut up and go away”.
She added she had been proud of being a youth worker and proud of the relationship and trust she and her team had built with so many children.
“More importantly we believed them. Children don’t come to you and lie and they were constantly accused of lying because the things they were telling us were so terrible.”
‘Hard-working and diligent’
She said she had sent information to Mr Walker via email, including warnings about a suspected sex offender inviting girls as young as 10 to his home, and another about a man who had raped a 15-year-old.
Giving evidence earlier this week, Mr Walker said he had been dealing with up to 180 cases at any one time as part of the specialist unit.
He admitted he did not record all information sent to him on police databases, but he said details were passed on or there was an expectation that other officers would have dealt with it.
Dismissing the misconduct allegation, the panel ruled on Thursday that Mr Walker had not taken any action which fell below the expected practice at the time.
He had been “hard-working, diligent and professional”, chair Simon Malik said.
Following the misconduct panel’s ruling, Rotherham Labour MP Sarah Champion said the hearing had “painted a deeply disturbing picture of South Yorkshire Police’s approach to CSE throughout this period”.
She said multiple investigations over the years had found the South Yorkshire force had “repeatedly failed those they had a duty to protect”.
She added: “Child sexual exploitation was treated as low priority. Investigations were under-resourced. Officers were untrained and, far too often, uncaring.
“The result was that potentially thousands of children were abandoned to abuse of the most shocking kind.”
A full report on the findings of the IOPC’s investigation is expected to be published next month.
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