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‘Anger’ over Rochdale grooming failures

Police, politicians and whistleblowers respond to report on sex abuse of children in the town.

Pat Hurst
Monday 15 January 2024 08:30 GMT
Former detective Maggie Oliver (PA)
Former detective Maggie Oliver (PA) (PA Archive)

Andy Burnham said the report into grooming in Rochdale was “hard to read” while former police detective Maggie Oliver said the failure to protect “hundreds” of young girls left her feeling, “anger”.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, who commissioned the report into grooming in Rochdale said it gave a “detailed and distressing” account of how many young people were failed.

He added: “That said, it fulfils the purpose of why I set up this review in the first place.

“It is only by facing up fully and unflinchingly to what happened that we can be sure of bringing the whole system culture change needed when it comes to protecting children from abuse.”

He continued: “We are sorry that you were so badly failed by the system that should have protected you.

“I would also like to praise those who blew the whistle on their behalf, particularly (former Rochdale health worker) Sara Rowbotham and Maggie Oliver, and for the support they have provided to them ever since. That took huge courage and determination and we thank them for it.”

Rochdale Council leader Councillor Neil Emmott said: “We are deeply sorry that the people who were at Rochdale Council during the period 2004 to 2013 did not recognise nor acknowledge the very serious failures that affected the lives of children in our borough and failed to take the necessary action.

“I want to reassure the public that those responsible are gone and long gone.”

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: “It remains a matter of profound regret that victims of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale in the early 2000s were failed by Greater Manchester Police – to them, I apologise.

“Whilst the report rightfully vindicates Maggie and Sara (Rowbotham) and reinforces the importance of the changes we have already made – many with Maggie’s support, it remains to be said that the current prevention of and response to child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and across Greater Manchester has been overhauled since the early 2000s to ensure that victims and survivors are cared for and receive the expected level of service.”

Maggie Oliver, who worked as a detective constable for Greater Manchester Police and has founded a foundation for the survivors of the scandal, said: “After over 10 years fighting for the truth of this botched case to be exposed, today is a day filled with so many mixed emotions for me.

“My overriding emotion though is one of anger. I am angry that not one senior officer or official has ever been held individually responsible for these failures, lies and cover ups.

“Repeatedly failing to prioritise them, to protect children and prosecute known abusers, whilst all the time publicly pretending they were doing a brilliant job

“I want them to be held accountable for this criminal neglect.

“To get these apologies, and for this review to expose the truth, has taken years of battling an institution which exists to protect itself at all costs.

“It is only by shining a bright light into the dark, hidden corners of all of these scandals and cover ups that we can find the real truth and so demand the changes so desperately needed to our so-called criminal justice system, which as the public know all too well is currently unfit for purpose.”

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