Report finds serious failings in the protection of children from grooming gangs in Rochdale

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A damning report has found serious failings in efforts to protect children from sexual abuse by grooming gangs.

An independent review team was commissioned by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, in 2017, to look at the effectiveness of multi-agency responses to child sexual exploitation (CSE) across Greater Manchester.

This is the third report, the first two looking at Operation August (a major police and social care investigation into CSE in the inner-city areas of Manchester) and the widespread CSE in Oldham.

This review focused on the sexual exploitation of children in Rochdale between 2004 and 2012, and specifically consider the allegations set out by Sara Rowbatham and Maggie Oliver in 2017.

The review’s authors said Greater Manchester Police and Rochdale Council failed to properly investigate reports of abuse in Rochdale between 2004 to 2013 despite warnings from Ms Rowbtaham and Ms Oliver and that girls were “left at the mercy” of paedophile gangs because of failings by senior police and council bosses.

The review, which focuses on 111 cases in Rochdale from 2004 to 2013, also concluded:

  • Compelling evidence of widespread organised sexual exploitation of children
  • Statutory agencies failed to respond appropriately
  • The threat of CSE was not addressed between 2004 and 2007
  • The probability that at least 74 children were being sexually exploited – and in 48 of those cases there were serious failures to protect the child
  • CSE was a low priority and under-resourced by GMP

Gary Walker, Managing Associate at Enable Law, said: “I have supported a number of women who were victims of CSE across Greater Manchester in securing apologies and damages for the harm they suffered.  However, many have still to receive any sort of recognition, their abusers have not been prosecuted and they have had no apology from the police or local authority.  I have also spoken with women who have not even been able to get their records from social services or the police to allow them to understand what happened to them. 

I feel truly honoured to have been able to support my clients and recognise their bravery at coming forward and disclosing their experiences in the hope that things will change. I recognise and welcome GMP and Local Authorities have said that they have overhauled their handling of CSE but more still needs to be done for the large number of women who were affected by CSE and still live with that impact.” 

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