- 2014 report laid bare the shocking scale of abuse by sex gangs in Yorkshire town
- In wake of report, National Crime Agency set up investigation into abuse
- The scale of issue means the number of people being investigated has hit 420
A police investigation sparked by the child abuse scandal in Rotherham is now investigating more than 400 suspects, it emerged today.
The National Crime Agency, often called 'Britain's FBI', is conducting a huge investigation after a 2014 report found more than 1,000 young girls had been abused in the South Yorkshire town.
Scandals have since engulfed other towns and cities, including Newcastle, Telford and most recently Huddersfield, with a series of similar gangs jailed.
Vulnerable young victims were typically given drugs and alcohol before being passed around between men of Pakistani heritage to be raped and sexually assaulted at will.
Authorities did little to tackle the abusers or save their young victims from their terrible ordeals, often due to fears over being labelled racist.
In the latest tranche of convictions, seven men were found guilty by a jury at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, of 24 charges relating to sex crimes between 1998 and 2005.
Operation Stovewood, the NCA probe sparked by the Rotherham scandal, is now examining 420 other suspects, The Times reported today.
Paul Williamson, the head of the inquiry, told the paper that its scale was daunting.
The NCA is set to bring its total spending on Operation Stovewood to £90 million by 2024 and will soon have a 250-strong team investigating sex abuse crimes in the 16 years to 2013.
This latest case involved five girls as young as 13 suffering acts of a 'degrading and violent' nature.
The men would drive around town in their 'flash' cars and target girls from problem homes hanging around late at night outside a supermarket.
At first the girls believed the older men were their 'boyfriends' and thought they were in 'love.' But that quickly changed as the grooming process progressed to brutal abuse. If they didn't comply to sexual demands, the men turned violent.
They were driven to remote locations or empty homes with no electricity to be raped and assaulted, the court heard.
The men would threaten to dump them in the middle of nowhere if they didn't agree to depraved demands and one was abandoned on the M1 motorway.
One of the girls was raped in car parks, under a bridge and in a country park. The court heard she was raped or assaulted by seven of the defendants at different times.
In 2002 the then 15-year-old went with her mother to report an abduction and beating to police. She later reported being raped by one defendant in a country park, but a police investigation into this alleged rape ended without a file being sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.