Another report on grooming gangs – meanwhile, abuse continues

19 January 2024

Head of Public Policy Tim Dieppe comments on the latest report on grooming gangs

Another report on the failures of police grooming gang investigations was released this week.

It is Part Three of the Independent assurance review of the effectiveness of multi-agency responses to child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester. This report reviews the now infamous Operation Span and the investigation of non-recent child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.

This report was specifically considering allegations made by former Detective Constable turned whistleblower Maggie Oliver and Sara Rowbotham, who worked as a front-line sexual health worker and helped to expose the grooming gangs in Rochdale.

In short, the report finds that the allegations made by both Maggie Oliver and Sara Rowbotham are credible, and that there is strong evidence supporting them.

Malcolm Newsam, lead author, said:

“Successive police operations were launched over this period, but these were insufficiently resourced to match the scale of the widespread organised exploitation within the area.

“Consequently, children were left at risk and many of their abusers to this day have not been apprehended.”

Widespread organised abuse

Some of the findings included:

  • There is “compelling evidence that there was widespread organised sexual exploitation of children within Rochdale from 2004 onwards.”
  • At least 96 men were still deemed to be a potential risk to children in 2013. “We believe this is only a proportion of the individuals engaged in child sexual exploitation (CSE) over this period.”
  • One victim was identified as being raped by many men, but only one suspect was charged, and he was only charged with sexual activity with a child even though she was only 12 years old at the time the rapes began, and was made pregnant aged 13.
  • This same victim had an abortion when aged 13, and police subsequently took possession of the without informing either her or her mother.
  • Another victim, ‘Amber’, identified 20-30 men who had abused her and positively identified eight out of ten of her abusers in the first of three planned identification parades. Subsequently, a decision was taken not to use her evidence and no crimes were recorded. Later, she was included in the indictment as a ‘co-conspirator’ with her abusers in the trial without her being informed, and in spite of her never having been arrested, charged or interviewed under caution. She had no opportunity to defend herself against the allegations.
  • Amber was released on police bail with a requirement to live with a man who had been arrested on suspicion of CSE.
  • One victim told how they put girls in a cage and make them bark like dogs or dress like a baby. No action was taken.

Last year, GMP Chief Constable issued Amber with a public apology for failing to investigate crimes against her and failing to recognise her as a child victim. However, no apology has been made by the CPS for including her name on the indictment without informing her or providing her with any support or protection from the repercussions.

Meanwhile, abuse continues

Maggie Oliver, whose allegations are supported in the report, spoke passionately at the press conference. She said:

“I would say categorically, … the failures that happened then are still happening now.”

“Institutional protection and covering up what is really going on is what I am hearing today.”

“We are currently supporting in the [Maggie Oliver] Foundation over 371 victims who say they are being failed by GMP, and their voices are being silenced.”

“A tiny number of the abusers were ever held to account in relation to years of abuse.”

“Ruby, who was child 3 in this report . . . came face to face with her rapist in Asda in Rochdale several years after the court case. . . . He wasn’t charged with rape. The charges brought were insufficient.”

“There are still far, far too many victims who are not being heard. Who are being criminalised. Who are being intimidated. Who are being silenced when they dare to raise their head above the parapet.”

She also spoke of another former serving police officer within the last month who was unable to get the support she needed to ensure that children would be protected.

Political correctness continues

The 173-page report uses the word ‘Asian’ to describe the abusers 54 times. The terms ‘Pakistan’ or ‘Pakistani’ occur six times. There is no mention of ‘Islam’ or ‘Muslim’. The Islamic connection which I documented back in 2018 is studiously avoided.

Maggie Oliver has written a book about her experiences: Survivors: One Brave Detective’s Battle to Expose the Rochdale Child Abuse Scandal.  It is a very personal account, and you can’t help sympathising with her and respecting her passion for justice. At one point she discusses why a police operation on CSE was shut down. She says:

I’m certain that an order was given at the very highest level that to reveal the extent of child grooming of white girls by Muslim men at that point could be akin to adding petrol to an already inflammatory situation.  I believe the decision came from the top and was made so the police could avoid accusations of Islamophobia – to avoid being called racist.” (p118).

Elsewhere she discusses how there was a racial element in the abuse, with the abusers boasting about “chilling with white girls.” She now believes that they should have brought in a ‘racially aggravated’ element to the investigation (p216).

As things stand, however, we continue to sacrifice young girls to political correctness.

What needs to change?

It is clear that the whole system needs a radical overhaul. No police officers have been held accountable for what happened. No one has taken responsibility.

There needs to be a radical change of culture in the police so that they fear failing to protect children more than they fear being politically incorrect. The doctrines of multiculturalism and political correctness have a lot to answer for. There also needs to be much tougher sentencing for perpetrators.

As I have said before, how many more girls will be sacrifice on the altar of political correctness? Reports are not enough. It is time for action.

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