A report from Greater Manchester Police has revealed that law enforcement authorities in Oldham, a British town to the northeast of Manchester, failed to protect youth from Pakistani grooming gangs.
The report, commissioned by the Oldham Council and released on June 20th, looked at abuse in residential homes, shisha bars, and taxis.
According to the report, abuse in these settings was not widespread, but when dangers or crimes were reported, police failed to respond and “the quality of casework was generally very poor.”
The report examined ten complex cases.
It included the heart-wrenching story of one victim, “Sophie,” just 12-years-old at the time of the incident in 2006. She had gone to the police station to report that she had been raped by an Asian man but was told to come back when she “was not drunk.” Subsequently, she was taken in a car by an adult male also visiting the police station. He raped her in the car and then took her to a house where she was raped again by multiple men.
The report further states that the police not only “fell far short of what was required to protect Sophie,” but that “these failures have been compounded by the denials that were subsequently made to Sophie.”
“It created the impression,” the report said, that “agencies were more concerned about covering up their failures than acknowledging the harm that had been done to a vulnerable young person.”
The findings also include the story of “Offender A,” the now incarcerated Shabir Ahmed—the ringleader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale, according to The Independent. He was employed by Oldham Council as a welfare rights officer for decades and was also placed in a leadership role at the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre. Multiple concerns about him were raised to the police, who never informed his employer, not even after he was arrested.
“If this had happened, it may have potentially avoided the tragic abuse of other children,” the report states.
Ahmed is serving a 22-year sentence for over 30 rapes and for aiding and abetting sexual crimes.
This is the second report on grooming gangs to show that the Greater Manchester Police department has failed children. The gross negligence started to come to light thanks to whistle blower Maggie Oliver, a former GMP detective.
Malcolm Newsam, a renowned childcare expert, authored the 202-page report in collaboration with Gary Ridgeway, a former detective superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police.
A subsequent major investigation into past child exploitation-related crimes in Manchester, Rochdale and Oldham has since identified 13 suspects and 187 offences.
Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.