Rochdale grooming: agencies accused of 'shocking' failures
Police and social workers unable to protect young victims from rape by Rochdale sexual abuse gang
A CATALOGUE of failures by police, social workers and other agencies enabled sex-grooming gangs to flourish in Rochdale, a damning report has revealed. The serious case review by the Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board has highlighted failures by 17 agencies who should have been protecting vulnerable victims.
The review was commissioned by Rochdale Council in September last year after nine Asian men were convicted of the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of young white girls in Greater Manchester.
The men were jailed for between four and 19 years for the abuse of five girls, some as young as 13 – although police said the true number of victims was likely to be nearer to 50.
Jane Booth, chair of the safeguarding board, said the 300-page report published today "paints a shocking picture of the inability of these agencies to protect these young people successfully".
Among the findings, the board said:
- Police detectives untrained in child exploitation were used to interview potential victims.
- There was a recognition that there may have been discriminatory attitudes among some police officers towards the victims.
- Social workers focused too much on young people's high-risk behaviour rather than their vulnerability.
- There was little information sharing and poor communication between agencies, which undermined the system's ability to protect the girls.
- Police also admitted that of 40 meetings to discuss child protection for one of the victims, there is no record of police attendance or involvement at any of them.
Greater Manchester Police has acknowledged that it let down a number of vulnerable girls but said tackling child exploitation was now its top priority, reports The Guardian.
Last year's trial led to a national debate over claims that gangs of largely Pakistani men were grooming white girls. The convicted men, aged between 24 and 59, plied victims, who hung around two takeaways in the area, with drink and drugs before the girls were "passed around" for sex.
One girl, aged 15 at the time and who was repeatedly raped, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour that local social services told her parents she was a "prostitute" and that she had simply made a "lifestyle choice". ·