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.
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.
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.
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