Police and councils failed to protect some children from grooming, report says

Police and councils failed to protect some children from grooming, report says

Greater Manchester Police were to blame for some failures, report says (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA file)

Greater Manchester Police were to blame for some failures, report says (Dave Thompson/PA) (PA file)

Police and local councils failed to protect some children from grooming and sexual exploitation in Oldham, but there was no cover-up by authorities, a major report concluded.

The report analyzed the alleged grooming of children in councilors’ homes, hookah bars and taxi drivers in the city and concluded that there was no evidence of cover-up or “widespread” child sexual abuse in these locations.

Despite “legitimate concerns” by police and the far-right council in Oldham, capitalizing on the issue of grooming predominantly Pakistani men, authorities in the town, which suffered racial riots in 2001, have not shied away from addressing the issue. report said.

But authorities have failed with some children, notably citing the case of a girl identified only as “Sophie”, who was abused at just 12 years old after “significant missed opportunities” to protect her.

Another day, another report on the failures of a police force to protect the most vulnerable in our society

Maggie Oliver

She went to Oldham Police Station to report being raped by an Asian man in October 2006.

She was told to come back when she was “not drunk” and was taken from the police station in a car and raped in the vehicle, then taken to a house and raped multiple times by five different men.

Both the Oldham Council and the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) should apologize for their failures, the report concluded, after being “more concerned with covering up their failures” than acknowledging that they failed to act.

The 202-page report is authored by Malcolm Newsam, a renowned child care expert, and Gary Ridgeway, former Cambridgeshire Police Detective Superintendent.

The report also details how Shabir Ahmed, the leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale, was hired by the Oldham Council as a social rights officer and seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre.

Despite several concerns raised about him and his arrest for sexual assault of children, police have not informed their employers.

“If this had happened, it could have prevented the tragic abuse of other children…” the report states, citing “severe multiple failings” by both the GMP and the local authority.

Ahmed, identified only as “Offender A” in the report, is now serving a 22-year prison sentence.

The report on Oldham follows an earlier damning report centering on grooming gangs in Manchester, which said the victims had been disapproved of by the police and local city authorities.

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective turned whistleblower, said: “Another day, another report on the failures of a police force to protect the most vulnerable in our society, even when there is irrefutable evidence to prosecute offenders and protect children.

“This report once again clearly highlights the force’s catastrophic failures and its repeated attempts to cover up and hide these failures from both victims and the public they serve, and this is extremely worrying.”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said investigations will continue (Jacob King/PA) (PA file)

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said investigations will continue (Jacob King/PA) (PA file)

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This report continues the process of highlighting past failures in Greater Manchester.

“There were serious failures and the victims were disappointed, especially Sophie.

“While there was no evidence of a cover-up, we should not hesitate to acknowledge shortcomings.”

A criminal investigation has reopened in Manchester and police watchdogs have been called in to investigate former senior GMP officers following the city grooming report published in January 2020. Both investigations are still ongoing.

Mr. Burnham, GMP Chief of Police Stephen Watson and the report’s authors will hold a press conference later today at the report’s publication.

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