Greater Manchester’s Police Chief has issued a warning to alleged child sexual exploitation offenders in Oldham after a report released today into historic child sexual exploitation in Oldham found serious failings in the handling of some cases
“My message to those offenders is a simple one, if you think you have got away with it you are wrong – and we are coming for you” he told a press conference as a the report was released to the public
Chief Constable Stephen Watson said that the report does not make ‘easy reading’ and ‘speaks to an era where public authorities including the police’ failed vulnerable children.
However he added that the conclusions of the report serves as a reminder as to how ‘far they have come’
The Chief Constable also announced that the force have launched a new investigation, Operation Sherwood to look at the potential perpetrators of abuse in Oldham.
The report referred in particular to the case of a girl called Sophie,who was abused and raped when she was just twelve.
Sophie (not her real name) was turned away from Oldham Police station and told to come back when she was not drunk only to be abducted when she left and raped multiple times over the evening
In a statement released along with the report the Chief Constable said
The safeguarding arrangements that were in place in GMP during the time period covered by the review were not good enough to protect children from sexual abuse.
“I want to offer my sincere apologies to everyone affected by the events considered in the report. Our actions fell far short of the help that they had every right to expect and were unacceptable. I am sorry for the hurt and on-going trauma they have suffered because of what happened to them.
“I intend to meet directly with Sophie and those that have been supporting her through this very difficult time and I welcome being able to apologise to her in person. However, I would also like to take the opportunity today to state publicly that I am very sorry for the failings in how we responded to her call for help; for how we did not record or sufficiently investigate the crimes committed against her and did not do enough to listen and support her during the subsequent reviews we undertook of her case.
“I offer no excuses but can give assurances that our approach to tackling child exploitation has vastly improved and is now a policing priority”.