In the Media

Rochdale child abuse report 'could lead to legal action'

PUBLISHED September 27, 2012

Police, social workers and the Crown Prosecution Service "missed opportunities" to stop a child exploitation ring abusing young girls over several years, according to a report published today.

Vulnerable young girls, some as young as 10, were systematically targeted for sexual abuse but then ignored when it was brought to the attention of multiple agencies which believed that they were "making their own choices".

The child sexual exploitation review was ordered in the aftermath of a trial in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, which saw nine Asian men aged between 22 and 69 jailed for grooming young white girls for sex.

The Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) concluded that "deficiencies" in the way children's social care responded to the victims' needs were caused by "patchy" training of front line staff.

Publication of the review follows newspaper reports alleging that agencies in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, were aware of a similar pattern of extensive and coordinated abuse of white girls by some Asian men for which no one has been prosecuted.

Rochdale Council said it has used the review's findings to implement a catalogue of changes and improvements.

The board looked at how agencies including the council, police, NHS and CPS worked between 2007 and 2012 to safeguard children and young people who were at risk of sexual exploitation.

Its report, which specifically followed the treatment of one 15-year-old victim, says: "While some organisations were consistently supportive in their response, overall child welfare organisations missed opportunities to provide a comprehensive, coordinated and timely response and, in addition, the criminal justice system missed opportunities to bring the perpetrators to justice."

It goes on: "Activity to disrupt alleged offenders was developing on the ground but this was not always followed through at a more senior level.

"The early investigations of crimes and the prosecution of alleged offenders were flawed."

Solicitor Richard Scorer, who represents some of the victims, says the report published today will likely lead to legal action for a "whole catalogue of failings".