Safeguarding Minister says ‘No’


As reported elsewhere on Neil Wilby Media earlier today (read more here), the Home Office has written to the Leader of the Opposition on Oldham Council (Cllr Howard Sykes MBE is also the Group Leader of the Liberal Democrats) and turned down his request for an independent inquiry into grotesque failings by police and council officers over historic child sexual exploitation in the Borough.

This is the full text of the letter sent by Safeguarding Minister, Amanda Solloway MP, on 2nd September, 2022. It is very much in line with the response given by her predecessor, Rachel Maclean MP, during an adjournment debate brought on the same topic at the end of June by Oldham West and Royton MP, Jim McMahon (read more here).

“Dear Councillor Sykes,

“Thank you for your letter of 20th July to the Home Secretary about child sexual exploitation
in Oldham. I am replying as the Minister for Safeguarding and I am sorry for the delay in
responding to your letter.

“I share your concerns over the shameful failures over child sexual exploitation in Oldham.
As so shockingly detailed in the recent report, children were failed, time and again, by
those who should have protected them, including Oldham Council and Greater
Manchester Police. We are determined that this must never happen again. The Home
Secretary has been consistently clear that this Government expects the police and local
authorities to relentlessly pursue perpetrators and protect children from this disgusting

“In relation to your request that the Government institute a public inquiry into the findings of
the Newsam and Ridgway reports, the Government continues to be clear that it is for the
local authorities in individual towns and cities, which are responsible for delivering local
services, to commission local inquiries. It is essential that local areas learn from what
happened in the past, and to take appropriate action to drive improvement in local

“At a national level, the Government established the ongoing statutory inquiry (Independent
Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – IICSA) to investigate how effective institutions, including
the police and local authorities, have been in protecting children from sexual abuse and

“The Inquiry’s final report setting out its overarching findings and recommendations to
improve child protection and safeguarding in England and Wales is due to be published in
autumn 2022. The Government will, of course, carefully consider the recommendations
and take all necessary action to keep our children safe.

“In addition, the Home Secretary recently commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of
Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to conduct a thematic inspection
into the policing response to group-based child sexual exploitation. Unlike recent local
inquiries into previous failures, this inspection will assess current practice, to ensure that
all police forces in England and Wales are learning from past mistakes and now deploying
the most effective techniques in response to this most heinous crime. We expect its report
later this year and will not hesitate to take further government action to improve the
policing response to this terrible crime.

“However, we are not waiting for recommendations from any inquiry to fulfil our
commitment to tackle child sexual abuse. We are doing all we can now to combat this
horrific crime. Our approach is underpinned by the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy,
published in January 2021, which sets out firm commitments to drive action across every
part of government and across all agencies – education, health, social care, law
enforcement, industry and civil society.

“As the Oldham report highlighted, it is vital we continue to strengthen our multi-agency
response to this crime. Across government we have formed a new Child Protection
Ministerial group to ensure we grasp this opportunity to improve the lives of all children
within the system. We have also introduced joint targeted inspections of local agencies’
performance in protecting children and young people from threats such as child sexual
exploitation, so that effective multi-agency working is recognised as the foundation for

“We remain committed to confronting and combating this horrific crime wherever and
whenever it occurs. We will use every lever available to us to keep children safe and
provide support to victims and survivors to ensure they receive the support they need to
help to rebuild their lives.

“Thank you for taking the time to write to us on this important matter.

Amanda Solloway MP”

For completeness, the text of Cllr Sykes’ letter is reproduced here:

“Dear Home Secretary,

“RE: Independent inquiry into child sex exploitation failings in Oldham

“I am sure you will have read the Newsam and Ridgeway report into historic cases of child sex exploitation in Oldham published on June 20th this year. I am also sure you will have been as horrified as I was, to read about how victims of those most heinous crimes were further let down by the serious failings of Oldham Borough Council and Greater Manchester Police.

“Quite understandably, the reaction to the report in Oldham has been one of deep anger. People here feel that some of the most vulnerable young people in our society have been let down by the very institutions that exist to protect them. GMP were also found guilty of similarly serious and serial failings in the first Newsam and Ridgway report, looking into Operation Augusta in South Manchester and Rochdale.

“A further report is due into Rochdale, and there is little evidence to suggest that this will not find the same failings again.

“It is clear from the authors’ very own words that GMP did not cooperate with the production of the review and so many questions remain unanswered. A full and independent public inquiry into the findings of the Newsam and Ridgeway reports is now needed in order to get the answers that victims and their families deserve; and to ensure that every organisational, procedural, and professional failing is identified to ensure these awful failings can never be repeated.

“I am writing to you, as Home Secretary, to ask you to grant the full and independent inquiry that Oldham and Greater Manchester need. I hope you will use your position to show people in Oldham that failure to protect children can never be accepted in our public institutions. It is only through meticulously investigating these failings that we can have true accountability and begin to earn back the trust of the people of Oldham. If you are unable to grant this enquiry, please could you explain your reasoning? I look forward to your reply with interest. Yours Sincerely,

Howard Sykes”

A motion brought to Council last night, for the third time within the past two years, seeking an independent CSE enquiry (sic) was lost yet again. It was moved by Cllr Brian Hobin and seconded by Cllr Mark Wilkinson of the Failsworth Independent Party (read more here).

The ruling Labour Group waived the ‘six month rule’, which prevents the same, or similar, motions being debated within that period, to allow further discussions on the vexed CSE topic.

Page last updated Thursday 8th September, 2022 at 1130hrs

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Picture credits: Saddleworth Independent

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Published by Neil Wilby

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

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