In northern UK, girls were ‘at mercy’ of paedophile grooming gangs for years: review

Failings by police and council bosses left girls “at the mercy” of paedophile grooming gangs in northern England for years, according to an independent review published on Monday.

The abuse of youngsters in Rochdale between 2004 and 2013 was repeated in a string of other scandals uncovered in recent years in British towns and cities including Rotherham, Oldham and Oxford.

A series of court cases eventually led to the conviction of dozens of men, mostly of South Asian origin.

The victims were schoolgirls who were mostly white.

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The damning 173-page review sets out multiple failed investigations by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) into the Rochdale abuse.

“Successive police operations were launched over this period, but these were insufficiently resourced to match the scale of the widespread organised exploitation within the area,” lead author Malcolm Newsam said.

“Consequently, children were left at risk and many of their abusers to this day have not been apprehended,” he added.

The report vindicated two whistle-blowers – the coordinator of a crisis intervention team, Sara Rowbotham, and detective Maggie Oliver, who resigned in disgust.

It said they had flagged clear evidence of “prolific serial rape of countless children in Rochdale” but had been “lone voices”.

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“Children were left at the mercy of their abusers because of an inadequate response by GMP and children’s social care to the serious exploitation of vulnerable children,” the report concluded.

The review was commissioned by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham following a documentary about the two whistle-blowers.

It was penned by Newsam, a renowned childcare expert, and former senior police officer Gary Ridgeway.

In the wake of the failed investigations, Greater Manchester Police launched further enquiries, which have to date resulted in the conviction of 42 men involved in the abuse of 13 children.

But the report also identifies 96 men still deemed a potential risk to children, adding that this is “only a proportion” of those involved in the abuse.

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