Well that makes it alright then. No blame equals no shame. Greater Manchester Police examined the conduct of 13 nameless (I’ll get back to that) officers in relation to their inability to properly investigate child sex abuse allegations in Rochdale but found only one of their number warranted mild disciplinary action. They said “sorry” though. Oh, they also promise that “lessons have been learned.” Natch.
I’m just not convinced that “sorry” covers the young girls fatefully let down in Rochdale or the fact that police had to investigate their own manifest failures in the first place.
The official statement doesn’t really make that – or anything else – clear.
What is telling is that not a single officer has paid with his or her job, as this extract shows.
“A total of 7 officers were served with misconduct notices and were formally interviewed about their actions and decision-making, their handling of investigations and victim care. Many more officers were interviewed and all fully cooperated with the investigation.
“The seven officers who were served notices include the former Divisional Chief Superintendent, a Superintendent, plus two Detective Chief lnspectors, two Detective lnspectors and one Sergeant. All received management action in respect of their performance with the exception of one Detective lnspector who the investigation found had a case to answer for misconduct. This officer retired prior to the completion of the investigation.
“All officers have been spoken to, the investigation findings shared with them for their personal development and learning and the misconduct and performance issues have been individually addressed.”
Assistant Chief Constable, Dawn Copley did have the courtesy to briefly touch on the human casualties in all this before taking the default position of bureaucratic waffle: “I want to start by saying we openly acknowledge that mistakes were made and victims were let down.
“For our part in that we apologise to the victims and we give them our assurance that lessons have been learned, changes have been made and we are determined to use this to continue making improvements.”
Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it all before.
This is just another example of the theory that organisations exist to benefit the organisers.
Police investigate police and nobody is charged with an offence, much less punished with the loss of their job and/or retirement benefit.
Instead failure is rewarded with mild censure and the public will never know the identity of the police officers who have so miserably, so catastrophically, so abjectly, failed to discharge their sworn duties.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had carriage of the investigation when it was referred in 2010 and is no better at apportioning blame.
IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said he was “appalled” by the failure of police in Rochdale as much as he was by the length of time it came for the report to be finally published.
Here are his thoughts on the matter in the IPCC’s official statement.
“Although the supervised investigation has concluded a Detective Sergeant did make individual errors in his handling of the investigation, it would be wrong to place the blame solely on him. He highlighted to his superiors that the investigation needed significant resources. His call was not heeded and that failure is puzzling. It took a further three years and the commitment of significant resources to bring the abusers of these girls to justice. With hindsight we must question whether that could have been done sooner, thus preventing these vulnerable girls suffering further abuse.”
With hindsight? Are you kidding me? What was your first clue, Mr Dipple-Johnstone?
Your investigation took almost five years, all the while the abuse was – and maybe still is – being committed right before the eyes of police.
Hundreds of young lives have been ruined by police incompetence yet somehow the public is expected to be mollified by a half-baked report that can only speak about knowledge in hindsight.
Mass resignations would be a more reasonable course to follow. That will never happen when police spend more time ostracizing victims for their behaviour than they do properly investigating their own.
The chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, Sir Peter Fahy, for one insisted that while police had learned their lessons (I know, I know) ultimately the vulnerable girls may well have been self-incriminating.
Seems they just couldn’t help themselves. This is what he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.
“The issue is that we still haven’t solved the key issue behind CSE (child sexual exploitation) which is: how do you protect vulnerable young people who are determined unfortunately to put themselves at risk, that don’t understand the degree to which they are making themselves vulnerable.”
Asked if he saw the problem as being children putting themselves at risk, he went on: “Yes absolutely. Because of their upbringing, because of their difficult situation and because they are in care, every single day we have large numbers running away.
“The public will say the obvious thing is then to put them in secure accommodation but we know that in itself causes long-term serious harm so we have to do all we can to go after the offenders and try to deal with them in different ways when we can’t get the victims’ evidence and try to protect victims as best we can.”
No, Sir Peter. The “obvious thing” is not to put vulnerable young girls in secure accommodation.
The obvious thing is for the police to do their job rather than protect each other.