Rochdale grooming: ‘Shocking’ failure over sex abuse

Dec 20, 2013 by

A “shocking” inability to protect six vulnerable young girls from sexual exploitation has been found by a report into the Rochdale grooming case.

A serious case review by the Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board highlighted failures by 17 agencies who were meant to protect them.

Police and social workers failed the girls who were “passed around for sex” by a gang of men, it said.

The review recommended “speedy resolution” to leadership failures.

‘Failure of protection’

“The report paints a shocking picture of the inability of these agencies to protect these young people successfully,” said Jane Booth, chair of the safeguarding board.

The serious case review looked at six girls who suffered child sexual exploitation, which took place in Heywood, Rochdale between 2007 and 2010.

Nine men from Rochdale and Oldham were sentenced for up to 19 years in prison in May 2012 after being convicted of offences including rape.

Five of the girls “clearly” needed early help and intervention by the safeguarding agencies before the abuse began to protect them from highly damaging experiences, the report found.

Failures highlighted include:

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) – Failure to recognise child sexual exploitation in the early stages

Rochdale Social Services – Lack of organisational priority over child sexual exploitation, an unstable duty and assessment team and a “chaotic” duty system

Health services – GPs had explicit information that some of the girls were at risk “that could have helped them identify the possibility of sexual exploitation at earlier points”

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – Recognition of child sexual exploitation in the early years “was very poor”, resulting in missed prosecution opportunities in 2008

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk (Labour) said agencies actively ignored the abuse and that “social services believed these girls were making lifestyle choices”, he said.

“The biggest issue to come out of this report is that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were effectively discriminating against poor white working class girls, so that’s not about a failure to spot abuse, that is about actively ignoring abuse that was going on when it was brought to their attention,” he said.

“Senior police officers keep talking about deploying more resources, but they’re sending out untrained officers who cannot win the trust of victims. We need better leadership on this issue.”

However, Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, said the report failed to confront a “fundamental” problem faced by police officers, who are repeatedly asked to track down and return young people missing from children’s homes, only for them to run away again.

“It creates a culture of hopelessness, where the police officers think ‘what’s the point?’,” he said.

“We haven’t sorted out a solution to these really complex issues about young people.”

‘Did not listen’

Nazir Afzal, chief prosecutor in the North West, whose office dropped the grooming case initially in 2009, said: “I absolutely accept that things didn’t go well for us and other agencies, but people can feel some sense of reassurance that we are now bringing more cases to court.”

Social workers were criticised for focussing on young people’s high-risk behaviour and “not their vulnerability”, the review found.

Numerous opportunities to intervene were missed and only two girls received child protection planning. Parents felt agencies “failed to work together”, did not listen or keep them informed.

One father called Children’s Social Care (CSC) up to 50 times, reporting his daughter’s “uncontrollable drinking, running away and difficult behaviour”.

Social workers told him she was “a child prostitute”, and he accepted this “because he did not know that it was wrong”, the review said.

A June 2008 report to Rochdale safeguarding children board had identified 50 children at risk of sexual exploitation.

via BBC News – Rochdale grooming: ‘Shocking’ failure over sex abuse.

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