The horrifying Oldham report once more underlines the state’s failure to protect vulnerable children

Jun 23, 2022 by

by Rakib Ehsan, CapX:

The independent review into historic child sexual exploitation in Oldham means institutional failures over tackling grooming gangs has once again been thrust into the spotlight.

The review makes grim reading. It found that vulnerable children had been failed by the agencies that were responsible for ensuring their protection, with procedures not being properly followed.

While this probably all sounds wearyingly familiar, the report contains some particularly striking revelations. Take, for instance, the spectacular cross-institutional failure which led to a notorious grooming-gang ringleader being employed as a welfare rights officer at Oldham Council.

An independent review said Shabir Ahmed, who spearheaded a child sexual abuse ring in nearby Rochdale, was seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre during his time working for Oldham Council. Despite multiple concerns being raised about Ahmed (referred to as “Offender A” in the report) and his arrest for the sexual assault of children, the police failed to tell his employers of this critically important information. Justice has since caught up with Ahmed, who is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence.

Based on examining ten complex cases, the independent reviewers also found the quality of casework for at-risk children was generally ‘very poor’ and that there was a failure to ‘appropriately initiate multi-agency child protection procedures’.

The details of these cases are horrifying. One survivor of abuse, Sam, was attacked by a total of eight men during a 24-hour period and raped on multiple occasions – at the age of just 12. The review concluded that both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) failed in their duties to protect her and made subsequent denials which ‘created the impression that both agencies were more concerned about covering up their failures than acknowledging the harm that had been done to a vulnerable young person’.

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