Serious failures identified in Oldham’s child sexual exploitation review

The long-awaited report on child sexual exploitation has revealed ‘serious failings’ that left children exposed to abuse. Here, our abuse experts discuss the findings of the review in more detail.

22 June 2022

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On 20 June 2022, a review commissioned by Oldham Council in 2019 to examine Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in the area was published, revealing damning failings by both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in tacking the issue. Whilst the report found no evidence of a deliberate cover up of CSE in Oldham by the authorities, it did find that there were significant failings in the handling of the issue.

Whilst the CSE services in the area were ‘strategically ahead’ of many other local authorities, these strategic approaches didn’t always translate into what the report said was the ‘appropriate level of safeguarding for young people at risk of CSE’. The authors reviewed ten complex cases in the report, and found the quality of casework was ‘generally very poor and characterised by a failure to appropriately initiate multi-agency child protection procedures when these children were known to be at risk of significant harm’.

The main structural flaw identified by the authors of the review was that whilst there was one qualified social worker acting as a conduit between the specialist team and the mainstream childcare social work teams, the mainstream teams were the ones undertaking the day to day work with the children. This includes assessments, safeguarding and planning. Put more simply, the rhetoric of the local authority at the top, and their high level aims and objectives to tackle CSE, didn’t translate to action on the ground on an everyday basis.

There were also some extremely worrying findings in relation to taxi drivers, whereby the council licensing panel had previously approved several taxi licenses to individuals who’d been convicted of serious sexual offences against children (although the report noted that national guidance around this issue has now been strengthened). Another section of the report deals with a survivor of serious CSE ‘Sophie’, who the local authority and GMP badly let down by failing to protect her from that abuse.

Finally, the report examined several cases of known offenders previously employed within Oldham Council, and how in some situations there had been ‘serious multiple failures by both GMP and Oldham Council to follow the procedures in place to investigate the threat Offender A presented to children’, amongst other failings identified.

This report follows the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report into Child Sexual Exploitation by Organised Networks that was published back in February 2022. This report found that CSE was widespread across the country and made several related recommendations to the government. Our specialist abuse team acted for a mother of a victim of CSE in the Warwickshire area within the IICSA investigation. This made it clear to us that CSE isn’t simply a problem in the north of the country, but a national issue which requires a large-scale strategy to properly tackle the issue with real funding, resources, training and willpower on the part of the authorities to make headway.

Sadly, it seems that not enough has changed since the Rochdale grooming CSE scandal, where our head of abuse Richard Scorer acted for ‘Girl A’ in her case against the authorities arising out of the horrific and vile abuse she suffered. With several reviews and reports now carried out on the issue, real and lasting change to help the victims and survivors of this terrible crime must now follow.

Experiencing sexual abuse or assault is a traumatic and life-changing experience. If you or a loved one have suffered from abuse, no matter how long ago it was, you could be able to bring a sexual abuse claim with our specialist abuse lawyers. Our experts respect the fact that it may be hard for you to talk about your experience and will work with you to make the process as easy as possible.

There's no pressure to start a case until you're absolutely sure it's what you want to do, but our specialist team are here to help when you do feel ready. Simply call us today on 0330 041 5869 for a confidential discussion of your potential case or contact us online here.

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