Once again, it has fallen to the Oldham’s Liberal Democrats to make the discovery that, despite both Oldham Council’s and Greater Manchester Police’s assurances that processes to deal with child sexual exploitation (CSE) have changed extensively, they have also confirmed that no disciplinary actions have so far been taken with any staff still employed who took part in the failures described in the report.
The recent Assurance Review into historic CSE in Oldham found that both GMP and Oldham Council had failed numerous children who were suffering horrific abuse. The highest profile example being a twelve year old girl, anonymised in the report as ‘Sophie’, who was sexually abused multiple times on multiple occasions – and many of the incidents were known to GMP and Council staff, who did not respond appropriately. There were subsequently not just one but two sustained, and elaborate, cover-ups by GMP’s Professional Standards Branch, in 2013 and 2018.
Both GMP and Oldham Council have confirmed that, whilst many of the staff involved have either left or retired, no remaining staff have either been investigated or disciplined. GMP have confirmed that they are recruiting a new Head of PSB who will investigate any potential misconduct, but that no investigations have taken place to date.
Mark Kenyon, Liberal Democrat councillor for Grotton, Springhead & Lees, said: “We’ve questioned Council & GMP further on their response to the Assurance report. We want to know that processes have changed. But we also want to know that, if there are any staff left who were involved in these failures, they are investigated and disciplinary action taken where appropriate.”
He concludes: “I’m so disappointed – both Council and Andy Burnham should have been all over this. Responses to CSE are delivered by both processes and people. Whilst it looks like a lot of work is going on into changing processes, it’s wrong to ignore any people who were involved. I’m calling on both to GMP and the Council to investigate fully any remaining staff – I’m not sure how we’re all meant to have confidence without this simple step.”
Neil Wilby, the author of this article, adds: “Drafts of the final Assurance Review report, which disclosed almost all of the wrongdoing, including prima facie criminal offences, were available to senior police and council officers for almost a year before it was formally published on 20th June, 2022. It is simply astonishing that actions and investigations have still not commenced against a single miscreant whilst survivors continue to live the agony of their ordeals every single day, without any sign of justice or closure on the horizon.
“These, in my respectful submission, are resignation issues for the Council’s Monitoring Officer and the Deputy Chief Constable of GMP who has portfolio responsibility and delegated powers for dealing with internal disciplinary matters”.
To those resignations should be added the hapless, hopeless Mayor of Greater Manchester whose complete absence of any recognisable political oversight has led to GMP remaining in Home Office Special Measures since December, 2020 with the position regarding operational policing worsening rather than improving. The second and most grotesque ‘Sophie’ cover-up by GMP PSB fell firmly on his watch. It is inconceivable that he didn’t know about it, given that her case had been robustly investigated by the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2013 when he was still a very senior Labour MP.
Page last updated Wednesday 20th July, 2022 at 1740hrs
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