Oxford sex ring victims suffered abuse whilst in care
Seven men have been convicted at the Old Bailey
for systematically grooming, abusing, trafficking and raping 6 girls as young as 11 years old
Criticisms have been made against both Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police for their failure to prevent abuse that went on for 8 years
whilst the victims were in care.
Noel Lucas QC, prosecuting, told jurors the men had deliberately targeted girls who had unsettled home lives
as it was more likely that no one was caring for them.
Failure of authorities to help victims
The 6 victims were all either in care, had been adopted or had been fostered. The victims spoke about how they had tried to tell a responsible adult
, but were not listened to.
The adoptive mother of Girl C says she repeatedly sought help from the authorities to save her daughter from the gang. She said "nobody was prepared to look at the whole picture
of what was going on."
She called her own case conferences with agencies and social services
in order to resolve the situation. However, they just 'passed the parcel between them'.
When Girl C said tried to report her abuse
to care home staff, she was told that the conversation was 'inappropriate'.
After the gang of abusers were finally prosecuted, Oxfordshire County Council put out a press release claiming they had offered support and care to the victims and families. Girl C claims this is a lie and that she did not even receive a phone call
Victims let down by Thames Valley Police
Thames Valley Police are also facing questions over their failure
to prevent the gang’s 8 year abuse of the victims.
Police and social services had been alerted to the abuse as early as 2006. They also received 6 complaints of abuse
from the victims themselves. Despite this, no intelligence was gathered and there were no successful prosecutions.
A 14 year old victim made a complaint to the police about her abuse. Police found her in the basement of one of the abuser’s hideouts
where she was high on cocaine, extremely distressed, crying and shaking.
Despite her condition and age, she was still allowed to drop the charges
without question when she was coerced by a fellow victim.
Helen Stanton, from Simpson Millar, said: "The problem of abuse of young vulnerable girls by organised paedophile rings is just being recognised
. Often, it seems, the victims are in care and their cries for help are not recognised
by those supposed to protect them."
A case review is underway into the failings of both the Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council social services. The review hopes to determine why complaints were not investigated
over the 8 years of abuse.