A report last month found that nine Asian men jailed for grooming young white girls for sex represented the tip of the iceberg, with many more victims, some as young as 10, likely to be involved.

Appearing before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee, David Crompton, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, blamed a lack of resources for the failure of the police to properly investigate the scandal.

But although the number of officers devoted to investigating reports of abuse has been increased from three to eight, his colleague DCI Philip Aldridge admitted that no new prosecutions had been launched this year.

Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, asked how this was possible given wide-scale reporting of the case of a family of three men who had allegedly engaged in sexual contact with as many as 61 girls.

He also raised the case of a 12-year-old girl said to have been found in a car with a 22-year-old man, who had sexually explicit photographs of her on his phone.

"I must say I am very disappointed because I do not think South Yorkshire has got a grip on this ver, very, serious issue," Mr Vaz told the officers. "You do need to get a grip of this situation in South Yorkshire.

"This family are presumably still wandering around the streets of Rochdale with these very serious allegations about the number of girls connected to them."

Mr Crompton promised to keep the committee informed about the status of future investigations.

He rejected suggestions that the police had failed to investigate the men properly because of racial sensitivities.

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