“Significant Failings” Left Children Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse in Oldham

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Tamsin Johns-Chapman

Abuse Claims Solicitor

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In November 2019, Oldham Council commissioned a review into safeguarding practices in the area. This came after numerous allegations were made that the council had known about local grooming gangs and made efforts to cover this up.   

The findings of this review have now been released and they show multiple missed opportunities to act on reports of abuse from as far back as 2005 by both the council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

In this article, we’ve looked into the findings of the review in further detail. Read on to find out more or get in touch with our experienced Abuse Solicitors for advice that is tailored to your situation.

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To find out more about how we can help in cases of child abuse, get in touch with our compassionate and experienced team.

What Were the Findings of the Review?

Whilst the review didn’t find any evidence over a “cover-up” within Oldham Council, it did reveal significant structural flaws in both the council and GMP’s systems for safeguarding children.

One of the most disturbing cases referenced in the report was that of a 12-year-old girl who is referred to only as “Sophie”. In 2006, Sophie went to Oldham police station to report that she was being sexually abused. Rather than being given support, Sophie was told to go home and come back when she was “not drunk”.

After being turned away, Sophie was sexually abused in the car that took her away from the police station. She was then dropped off at a house where she was sexually assaulted by five different men. The report referred to “significant opportunities” missed by GMP that could have prevented Sophie from experiencing further abuse.

But GMP’s failings were not limited to Sophie’s case. The leader of a notorious Rochdale grooming gang, Shabir Ahmed, was able to keep his job at Oldham Council after GMP failed to tell his employer about the allegations of child sexual abuse made against him.

Ahmed continued to work with vulnerable adults and their children as a welfare rights officer until 2006. When he was eventually convicted in 2012, Ahmed faced 30 child rape charges as well as numerous other offences. The review points to the fact that if the council had known about the initial allegations made against him, it may have prevented the further abuse of other children.

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What Needs to Happen Next?

Both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police have said they’re “deeply sorry” to everyone who has been affected by the failings mentioned in the review. It has also been agreed that each of the cases listed in the report will be revisited and they will consider whether “further action” can be taken.

We’re pleased to hear that Oldham Council and GMP have acknowledged their past failings, and we also recognise that significant improvements have taken place since. This is echoed by the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Stephen Watson, as he stated that their “approach to tackling child exploitation has vastly improved and is now a policing priority.”

If you’ve experienced abuse in childhood, our experienced Abuse Solicitors could help you access support and compensation. Get in touch with us for a free and confidential initial conversation.

What to Do if You Suffered Abuse as a Child

If you were abused as a child, or are the parent or guardian of a child who has been abused, it is important that you know that there is someone to turn to. Whilst we would advise you to report any abuse to the police if you have not already done so, we can also help you to claim compensation.

While compensation won’t change what happened or make it better, it can help you get the treatment you need and some closure and the justice you need to move forward.

Why Choose Us

At Simpson Millar, we understand how difficult it is for survivors of childhood abuse to seek help, which is why we strive to make the process as smooth as possible. When you are ready, we will be here to listen to your story so we can determine the best course of action for you.

Our compassionate team will handle your claim with sensitivity, so you feel comfortable every step of the way. In addition to providing legal assistance with your claim, we will also signpost you to a network of support services. We know how beneficial support groups are for survivors, so we will help you find local services if you are happy for us to do so.

Contact us today to arrange a free claims assessment, so we can determine how we can best help you.

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FAQs about Child Abuse Claims

What Does the Claims Process Involve?

At the start, we will investigate your claim and obtain your medical records. If you’ve done a police statement, we’ll obtain this too. We will arrange for you to have a medical assessment to report on the impact the abuse has had on you. We’ll value your claim based on the medical report which may include loss of earnings and cost of treatment.

Negotiations will then begin with the Defendant and if they disagree with the medical report, the Defendant may arrange for another expert to assess you. If your claim hasn’t settled, we’ll start Court proceedings.

Throughout the Court proceedings more evidence may come to light which could strengthen or weaken your position. Either side can try to settle your claim at any point. If your claim still hasn’t settled, it will go to trial where a Judge will decide whether the Defendant is liable and how much compensation you will get.

Can I Apply for Legal Aid?

You may be able to apply for Legal Aid, depending on your financial situation. We can help you with your application, so you don’t have to navigate this alone. If you are not sure whether or not you are eligible for Legal Aid, we can help determine how likely you are to be eligible to receive it.

If you are not eligible for Legal Aid, we may be able to explore other options such as No Win, No Fee agreements. If you would like to discuss the  funding options, please get in touch with our specialist team.

How Much Compensation Can I Claim?

The full amount of compensation you are entitled to will vary. We will take into account many factors including your pain and suffering, psychological trauma, and loss of income.

Are the Details of My Claim Confidential?

Yes, we are bound by a duty of confidentiality, so we will never reveal any details about your case to anyone without your consent. When you come to us, you can trust us to handle your case with sensitivity without the worry of people finding out about your case.

Of course, there may be times when we are required to disclose certain details about your claim, but we will speak to you first before contacting anyone on your behalf.


Authority, G.M.C. (no date) The review into historic safeguarding practices in Oldhamhttps://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/news/the-review-into-historic-safeguarding-practices-in-oldham/.

www.simpsonmillar.co.uk. (2023). Physical and Sexual Abuse Claims | Simpson Millar Solicitors. [online] Available at: https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/abuse-claims-solicitors/.

Tamsin Johns Chapman Profile image

Tamsin Johns-Chapman

Abuse Claims Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Tamsin's academic journey started at the University of Liverpool where she studied for her degree in Law. She then advanced her studies by completing the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law (currently known as the University of Law) in Chester.

Her professional journey began with a specialist abuse firm, where she underwent training and qualified as a Solicitor in 2011. Broadening her expertise, Tamsin spent some time at a firm specialising in criminal injuries compensation claims. For over five years, she has been a part of the Simpson Millar team, dedicating her efforts to representing victims and survivors of abuse in various types of claims.

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