The Review into safeguarding practices in the Borough of Oldham – Terms of Reference

Oldham assurance safeguarding review front cover

These are the full Terms of Reference for an Assurance Review that took place between January, 2020 and June, 2022 into historic safeguarding practices involving Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester Police and partner agencies.

The Review was undertaken by Malcolm Newsam CBE and Gary Ridgway – and published on 20th June, 2022 (read full and heavily disclaimed report here).

Purpose of the Review
In September 2017, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, in his
role as Police and Crime Commissioner launched an independent assurance
exercise to explore the current and potential future delivery model of the
response to child sexual exploitation (CSE) across Greater Manchester. The
first report of the independent review team is to be published in January 2020
into Operation Augusta a joint police and children’s services investigation
into child sexual exploitation within the Manchester City area. The review
team has also commenced but has not yet concluded an assurance exercise
into the exploitation of children in the Rochdale area.

In November 2019, the Leader of Oldham Council, Sean Fielding and Henri
Giller, Chair of Oldham Safeguarding Partnership, wrote jointly to the Mayor
and the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Standards Board’s independent
chair Jane Shuttleworth, to request that the review into safeguarding
practices in the borough of Oldham be combined into the independent
review team’s assurance work.

The remit of this aspect of the review will focus on historical allegations
relating to child sexual exploitation and consider whether the council, with its
partner agencies provided an appropriate response to protect children
vulnerable to or known to be victims of child sexual exploitation. The
assurance review will specifically consider, but will not be limited to,
allegations that have circulated on social media of inappropriate access to
young people involving shisha bars, taxi companies and children’s homes. It
will also, look at the extent to which historical actions and employment
records have been adequately investigated in the case of known offenders
previously employed within Oldham public services.

The findings of the report completed by the assurance team will be published
and communication inquiries will be dealt with by the Greater Manchester
Combined Authority (GMCA) on behalf of the Mayor, in his role as Police and
Crime Commissioner, in consultation with Oldham Council and other

To review the practice of Oldham Council in partnership with its statutory
safeguarding agencies in response to allegations of child sexual exploitation
between 2011 and 2014, with particular reference to the concerns expressed in
social media and elsewhere that the statutory agencies were aware of this abuse,
failed to respond appropriately to safeguard the children and subsequently
covered up these failings. In addition, the review will consider specific cases that
may fall outside of the 2011-2014 timeframe (as set out in points 2 and 3 below).

The assurance work will cover the work of the safeguarding agencies in Oldham
during the period 2011 to 2014 (Review Period).

The scope of the review will include, but not be limited to, providing assurance
in respect of the following concerns:
1. Allegations made on social media about
• The risks posed to children from local shisha establishments during
• The nature and extent to which adults had inappropriate access to
children and young people resident in children’s homes in Oldham
putting them at risk of harm during 2011-14
• The nature and extent of the use of local taxi services to access
children and young people for the purposes of sexual exploitation
during 2011-14
2. Allegations or concerns expressed in relation to specific cases. The review
will in particular consider complaints made in a letter by an individual
complainant to the Leader of Oldham Council in November 2019 and
copied to the Mayor of GMCA. about the handling of her case during
3. The cases of known offenders previously employed within Oldham
Council and the extent to which the historical actions and employment
records have been adequately investigated by the Council.
4. The review team will not review any active enquiries or on-going
investigations into any of these allegations but GMP will support the
review by sharing progress on Operation Hexagon.

This review will provide assurance through the following methodology:
A desktop review of all reports, audits and performance information on
the management of child sexual exploitation during the review period
• Review and evaluate all reports and information provided to Oldham
Cabinet, Oldham Scrutiny Committees and the Oldham Local
Safeguarding Board on child sexual exploitation in the borough,
including its prevalence prevention and detection during the review
• Any whistleblowing allegations made during the review period that
relates to CSE or concerns about how the agencies were responding to
the issue.
• LSCB Audit and thematic review evidence from the period including
Annual reports, and the work of the LSCB sub groups that address the
issue of CSE.
• Serious Case Reviews, OFSTED or DFE notification of cases of concern
where CSE was an issue during the review period
• Details of any CSE thematic single agency audits held during the the
review period.
Scoping the allegations made in social media postings covering the period
• Review of social media postings expressing concerns about the council’s
response to concerns in respect of child sexual exploitation during the
review period
• Interviews with individuals who have made significant allegations.
• Preliminary interviews with senior officers in Oldham Council, and if
required former officers
• Review of the management of known offenders previously employed
within Oldham Council and the extent to which the historical actions and
employment records have been adequately investigated by the council
• An initial evaluation of the evidence base for the allegations and setting
out of the key lines of inquiry
• Developing key lines of inquiry based on substantive evidence
Gateway Reviews and the engagement of partner agencies
• Regular gateway reviews will be built into the work programme for the
review team. The first review will be undertaken by the steering group
following the completion of the desktop analysis, the scoping of the
allegations and development of the key lines of inquiry. This gateway
review will also determine, based on the key lines of inquiry whether
access to additional information and data will be required from GMP
and NHS agencies
• For the first gateway review the review team will provide a report to the
Steering Group. This report will determine if further work is required to
provide the necessary level of assurance, including any additional key
lines of inquiry. If further information is required a formal request will be
made to access data held by the statutory agencies to complete its
assurance exercise.
• To facilitate access to case records, reports, correspondence and other
information relevant to the review’s inquiries a data processing
agreement will be agreed between GMCA, the review team and
Oldham Council and if required also with GMP and NHS organisations.

Additional Assurance
The review team will undertake further detailed assurance work, as required, on
specific cases where it is identified that children may not have been
appropriately protected from sexual exploitation or where there are specific
concerns in respect of the conduct of individuals employed by the council in
relation to CSE.
This will include evaluation of the records for young people identified at risk of
or experiencing CSE at the time and where a concern has been identified that
the risk or incidence of CSE was not appropriately identified and responded to
at the time.

The Assurance Team
The team will report directly to Baroness Hughes, Deputy Mayor of Greater
Manchester, who will act as sponsor. The team will be led by Malcolm Newsam CBE, who will be supported by Gary Ridgway.
Malcolm Newsam is an experienced child-care expert with extensive
experience of providing diagnostics, interventions and improvement support
to a range of councils across the country. He has been appointed by the
Secretary of State for Education as a commissioner for children’s services in
Rotherham, Sandwell and Northamptonshire. He was awarded a CBE in the
2017 New Year Honours for services to children’s social care.
Gary Ridgway was previously a Detective Superintendent in Cambridgeshire
Police and Head of Public Protection. He has pioneered proactive victim-led
CSE investigations and led Operation Erle which resulted in the successful
conviction of ten offenders. He now works as an independent consultant
supporting the National Crime Agency, Councils and Police Forces on CSE.

• This work has been commissioned by the Mayor of Greater
Manchester at the request of Oldham Council and the Oldham
Safeguarding Partnership.
• The team will report directly to the Deputy Mayor in relation to progress
and outcomes. In 2017, the Deputy Mayor established a steering group to
join her in providing governance and oversight of the assurance review. The
steering group is chaired by the Deputy Mayor and is attended by the Chief
Constable of Greater Manchester Police, the Chief Executive of Manchester
City Council, the Chief Executive of Bury Council, the Chief Executive of
Rochdale Council, senior officers from St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral
Centre, senior officers of GMCA and the review team. The Oldham
workstream will be overseen by this steering group. Oldham Council will be
represented on the steering group by the Strategic Director for
Communities and Reform and by the Managing Director for Children and
Young People.
• There will be regular meetings chaired by the Deputy Mayor to monitor
progress, tackle any concerns and agree the next milestones. Additional
meetings may be required which will be arranged according to need.
• Whilst formal governance for the review is through reporting lines to the
Deputy Mayor, the team will, on a regular basis engage directly with core
members of the Local Safeguarding Partnership to discuss matters that
relate to the review and progress on the key lines of inquiry.
• The GMCA Deputy Chief Executive will be responsible for the management
of the contracts with the external team and will oversee the budget.
Resources and Commitments
• GMCA, on behalf of the Mayor, will engage with partner agencies
including GMP, local authorities, NHS colleagues and the Oldham
Safeguarding Partnership to explain the scope of, and arrange cooperation with, the assurance team and will organise meetings as required.
• The Deputy Mayor, GMCA’s Deputy Chief Executive and the other
steering group members will engage as required with Oldham
Council, GMP, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and other relevant
NHS organisations in relation to this work to ensure that a data
processing agreement is in place if required in respect of access to
case records, reports, correspondence and other information relevant
to the review’s inquiries.
• GMP will ensure that relevant information on the progress of
Operation Hexagon is shared with the review team to support their
• GMCA, on behalf of the Mayor, will be responsible for all
communications in consultation with partners.
• On behalf of the Mayor, GMCA Deputy Chief Executive Andrew Lightfoot,
will provide senior executive officer support to the assurance team to
ensure it runs effectively and is adequately resourced.
• GMCA, on behalf of the Mayor, will provide legal advice to the
assurance team as required and will provide legal input into the final
drafting and publication of the report.
• GMCA, on behalf of the Mayor, will provide a note taker to be present at
all interviews undertaken by the team and a minute taker for all decisionmaking meetings.
• GMCA, on behalf of the Mayor, will provide a secure room for the team to
be based during their work at Churchgate House. Oldham Council will
provide a secure room for the team to be based during their work at the
Civic Centre and staff support to access information and records.

Page last updated Tuesday 5th July, 2022 at 1210hrs

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Picture credits: Oldham Council

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Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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