The role of senior police commanders in the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal is to be investigated, the police watchdog has said.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct's (IOPC) Operation Linden has been looking into South Yorkshire Police's response to the exploitation of hundreds of children over more than a decade in the town.
It announced on Tuesday that this inquiry is expanding to include the role of the force's former senior command team, although no individual senior officer is under investigation at this stage.
A spokesman said: "The main allegation within the complaint is that senior officers failed in their statutory duty to protect children between 1997 and 2013.
"Our investigation will include gathering evidence about the actions carried out by the senior command team, after reports were allegedly shared with them that highlighted child sexual abuse (CSA) was being carried out in Rotherham during the period covered by Operation Linden."
The IOPC investigation began after the Jay Report concluded that the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children in Rotherham had been effectively ignored by police and other agencies.
IOPC acting deputy director for major investigations Steve Noonan said: "It's important to say that we're in the early stages of this particular strand of the investigation and the next steps will be to draft the terms of reference, which will be vital to bring focus to this complicated case.
"I'd like to make it clear that no individual officer is under investigation at this stage.
"The force's strategy to tackle CSA during the period we are investigating has already been highlighted through Operation Linden. This is an area we feel needs to be fully investigated to give the survivors, and people living in Rotherham, confidence that we have carried out a thorough investigation."
The IOPC said it has had 106 individual case references as part of Operation Linden and it estimates this will result in around 84 individual investigation reports.
It said 33 officers remain on notice that they are under investigation, but this number can also fluctuate as the inquiry continues.
Mr Noonan said: "Our ultimate aim is to ensure that all those affected can be confident that their complaints have been comprehensively investigated, and for South Yorkshire Police, and indeed all forces across the country, to learn from our findings."
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