Officers at South Yorkshire Police viewed sexually abused children in Rotherham as “problems” not “victims”, a watchdog report has found.

The report, which cost £6m and has taken eight years to complete, details shocking experiences of vulnerable children in the town, including one instance where an abuser “handed over” a child he’d abducted to the police as part of a “deal” not to arrest him.

In many instances, police failed to remove children as young as 11 from the company of older men, after accepting the men were their “boyfriends”.

A total of 47 current and former officers were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, after 265 separate allegations made by more than 50 complainants.

Eight officers were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six were found to have a case to answer for gross misconduct.

But the most severe sanction was a final written warning, and in many cases, officers had retired and couldn’t face disciplinary proceedings.

Survivors of abuse are furious that no officers have been sacked for their behaviour.

Sammy Woodhouse was just 14 when her abuse started, groomed by a 24-year-old man, Arshid Hussain, who she thought was her boyfriend.

She told Sky News she wished to waive her right to anonymity as a survivor of sexual abuse.

“The police was very aware of me, I saw the police on a daily basis, you know, throughout the two years when I was being exploited. They weren’t interested, they never even questioned it,” she said.

Sammy Woodhouse

Image: Sammy Woodhouse was just 14 when her abuse started

“What you’ve got to realise is if they would have gone and charged him other people might not have gone on to be exploited.”

Hussain was jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences involving nine women, including Sammy.

Ms Woodhouse is furious that no officers have been fired.

“People have retired, they’ve got their pensions. Kind of feels like they’ve been rewarded and we’re left picking all the pieces up, we’ve had our lives ruined,” she said.

Arshid Hussain convicted Rotherham rapist

Image: Sammy was groomed by Arshid Hussain from the age of 14

IOPC director of major investigations Steve Noonan said: “Our report shows how South Yorkshire Police failed to protect vulnerable children and young people.

“Like other agencies in Rotherham at that time, it was simply not equipped to deal with the abuse and organised grooming of young girls on the scale we encountered.”

South Yorkshire’s deputy chief constable Tim Forber said: “We fully accept the findings of the IOPC report. We let victims of CSE [child sexual exploitation] down. We failed to recognise their vulnerability and failed to see them as victims, for that I am deeply sorry. They deserved better from us.

“The brave accounts of these girls caused a seismic change in policing crimes of this nature for South Yorkshire Police and the wider police service.”

He added: “Whilst I am confident we are a very different force today, I will not lose sight of the fact that we got it wrong and we let victims down.”