A mayorally-commissioned review has concluded that child sexual exploitation was low-priority and under-resourced by Greater Manchester Police.
The review focuses on multiple failed investigations by GMP and 111 cases in Rochdale from 2004 to 2013. Malcolm Newsam, author of the review, said that ‘GMP and Rochdale Council failed to prioritise the protection of children who were being sexually exploited.’
Following the airing of BBC documentary, The Betrayed Girls in 2017, Mr Burnham commissioned a series of independent reviews. The latest review found substantial evidence that at least 74 children were being sexually exploited yet ‘there were serious failures to protect the children in 48 cases.’ The Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham said that ‘This report reveals the same problematic institutional mindset in public authorities that we have seen elsewhere: young, vulnerable girls not seen as the true victims by those whose job it was to protect them but instead as the problem.’
Health worker Sara Rowbotham and former GMP Detective Maggie Oliver raised concerns about a gang of men engaged in child sexual exploitation in 2007. According to the review, GMP and Rochdale Council ‘chose not to progress any investigation into these men.’ Mr Newsam described Ms Rowbotham and colleagues as ‘lone voices’ in raising concerns, despite facing criticism from authorities.
Maggie Oliver resigned from the GMP to expose their failings. ‘They’ve criminalised them, they’ve blamed them, they have ignored them,’ Ms Oliver said when speaking to BBC North West Tonight. She described the numbers in the report as ‘shocking’ yet criticises it, she explains: ‘terms of reference meant they were only allowed to look at what happened up to 2013.’
The review identified 96 men who ‘potentially pose a risk to children,’ and this was ‘only a proportion’ of those involved in CSE over this period.
Successful convictions have been made in recent years, but the report found that these only relate to 13 of the 74 children believed to have been sexually exploited.