THE word scandal is not enough. The word disgrace doesn’t do it justice. Yesterday it was reported that ‘children were raped and abused by up to 100 members of a Manchester grooming gang 16 years ago, but despite police and social workers knowing what was happening they weren’t stopped.
‘At least 57 young girls are thought to have been exploited by a paedophile network based in south Manchester. They were hooked on drugs, groomed, raped and emotionally broken – one youngster, aged fifteen, died.’
A report commissioned by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham found:
· Social workers knew that 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia was being forcibly injected with heroin, but failed to act. She died two months later.
· Abusers were freely allowed to pick up and have sex with Victoria and other children from city care homes, ‘in plain sight’ of officials.
· Greater Manchester Police dropped an operation that identified up to 97 potential suspects and at least 57 potential victims. Eight of the men went on to assault or rape girls.
· As recently as August 2018, the Chief Constable refused to reopen the inquiry.
The report says: ‘Officers managed to quickly identify a network of nearly 100 Asian men potentially involved in the abuse of scores of girls via takeaways in and around [the Manchester area of] Rusholme, but the operation was shut down shortly afterwards due to resources, rather than a sound understanding of whether lines of inquiry had been exhausted. Barely any charges were made against the men identified by the operation. Eight of them later went on to commit serious sexual crimes, including the rape of a child, the rape of a young woman, sexual assault and sexual activity with a child.’
Essentially if you were a white working-class girl in care in Manchester, you lived in a rape culture. The offence of rape was legalised in your case, because the adults who were supposed to protect you failed to do so.
The report concludes: ‘The authorities knew that many were being subjected to the most profound abuse and exploitation but did not protect them from the perpetrators.’
This is not just a one-off. No indeed, this culture of impunity, this sacrifice of your girls is happening up and down the country. As the review says: ‘This is a depressingly familiar picture and has been seen in many other towns and cities across the country.’
The Manchester Evening News reported: ‘At the centre of the review’s findings is the horrific death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia, originally from Rochdale, who was placed in the care of Manchester council at the age of eight. Victoria died from a suspected heroin overdose in September 2003. Fifty-year-old Mohammed Yaqoob, who had been forcibly injecting her, was later cleared of manslaughter and jailed for three-and-a-half years for administering the noxious substance. The review, which forensically reopened and examined Manchester council records dating back the best part of two decades, concludes social services “failed to protect her”. By the time she was 13, social workers knew that she was taking drugs and engaging in what they referred to at the time as “prostitution”, it finds, with care home staff complaining about a “boyfriend” and “pimp” in his mid-20s visiting her and supplying drugs.
‘It says this relationship was known about by police and the council, but appears from the records to have been “condoned by social services” and no attempts were apparently made to find out exactly who the man was.
‘In March 2003, six months before her death, the man took her to the home of one of his relatives. She later reported that she had been raped, but despite a medical examination, the abuse was allowed to continue.’ The review found that the authorities were well aware of the abuse she had been subjected to, but failed to act. She died in hospital of a heroin overdose, injected by Yaqoob at his home, on 29 September 2003.
The Manchester Evening News again: ‘Files showed that as long as two years before her death, Victoria had reported been “repeatedly threatened, assaulted, returned intoxicated and in distress”, that she “gave information that she was involved in sexual exploitation, alleged rape and sexual assault requiring medical attention” and that she had become involved in the criminal justice system, as well as having several pregnancy scares. Her “boyfriend” had been allowed to visit her in the care home she lived in.
‘After Victoria’s death Operation Augusta was launched. A small team of officers – which the report finds were under-resourced from the start – set about investigating the possibility of a wider grooming gang operating in the south Manchester area, due to “a genuine fear that a group of Asian men were targeting vulnerable girls in residential care for sexual exploitation”.
‘It quickly identified 25 potential victims aged between 11 and 17, many thought to be linked to one of the men who had abused Victoria. Ten of the girls described being taken from their care homes to have sex with Asian men above a nearby takeaway.
‘One told police how girls were being offered £50 for sex, while others described going to “sex parties” of 20 Asian men. All the victims who were identified in the early stages of Augusta were living in care homes in south Manchester. In the space of just a few months, the review finds, officers managed to build up a “compelling picture of the systematic exploitation of looked after children in the care system in the city of Manchester”.’
This operation was then shut down due to ‘lack of resources.’ It was only the work of Detective Maggie Oliver, who resigned over the scandal, that led eventually to yesterday’s report.
Discussing this case on Twitter, Lucy Allan MP commented that ‘authorities don’t listen to white working class.’ She added: ‘CSE [child sexual abuse] happened unchecked right across the country because authorities ignored the victims and took the view they bought it on themselves.’
This report has proved once again that in modern Britain everything is policed but crime. If you use the wrong pronoun on Twitter you can expect a knock on the door from the Old Bill.
But if you are unfortunate enough to be a young working-class, white girl in a care home, or indeed in one of many towns and cities, and are being raped and abused by groups of Asian men, don’t expect any protection from anyone in authority. You are on your own.