Rochdale abuse victims now get Greater Manchester police apology over grooming gang failures

The women have also received an out of court settlement over the historic sexual abuse by grooming gangs in Rochdale.
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The chief constable of Greater Manchester police has apologised to three women abused by grooming gangs as children in Rochdale.

The three, who were raped and abused as youngsters by gangs of men met Chief Constable Stephen Watson at police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon to receive an apology over police failure to protect them under previous police leadership.

The women, with support from lawyers from the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) charity, have also received undisclosed ‘substantial’ damages.

Their legal representatives argued the force had failed to record crimes, investigate the offenders, collect intelligence or charge and prosecute the men. The claim was settled out of court.

The women’s childhood ordeal was dramatised in the powerful BBC drama, Three Girls.

One of the women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, today said: “I don’t know if I believe that Greater Manchester Police have really changed their ways as they say they have, but I’m happy that they’ve taken into account their failings and there’s finally been some accountability.”

Ex-GMP detective, Maggie Oliver, who quit the force in 2012 to expose the scandal, said she felt ‘relieved’ the force had at last admitted the girls had been failed.

What has Stephen Watson said?

“Today is not about Greater Manchester Police, but about those victims who in the past have been let down when they needed our help in the most traumatic and horrific circumstances. I have now personally delivered my apology to some of these victims for the failings Greater Manchester Police had in its contact with those who suffered child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.

“It is a matter of profound personal regret that the childhoods of these victims were so cruelly impacted by the dreadful experiences they endured. GMP could, and should, have done much more to protect them.

“The failings of our past into Child Sexual Exploitation are well known, and thankfully there is today a far better understanding of CSE than there was before the Operation Span trial in May 2012, and we are committed to leaving no stone unturned to bring these offenders to justice, no matter the passage of time, through our dedicated Force CSE unit.

“We will strive to keep improving our responses to similarly horrible circumstances, to prevent the same from happening in the first instance and relentlessly pursuing perpetrators so that they can be held fully to account.

“I hope that my apology and commitment to rectifying the poor practices of the past will provide some little comfort to those we failed.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, added: “Within days of being elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester I commissioned an independent assurance review into historic child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, prompted by The Betrayed Girls documentary and the serious issues raised by Maggie Oliver.

“There is no doubt that GMP did fail victims and survivors. I am therefore pleased that today the new Chief Constable has met with some of the victims of child sexual exploitation from Rochdale and with Maggie Oliver and has delivered an in-person and written apology.

“This marks a clear break with the past behaviour of GMP and I hope it will provide reassurance that, under the new leadership of our Chief Constable, an entirely different approach is being taken to victims and facing up to past mistakes.”