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How Oxford’s police and social services allowed 370 underage girls to be raped

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I’ve been reading the official report into the latest Muslim rape gang atrocity – in Oxford, this time, city of dreaming spires and the kind of place you’d never imagine such appalling crimes possible over such a period of time and on such a scale.

Be warned: the details are not for the squeamish.

But I think it’s important we’re all fully aware exactly what happened so that we can direct our righteous rage in the appropriate direction. People have been getting away with murder here – and I don’t mean the rapists: at least, finally, at long last, they’re going down. I mean the authorities responsible who, at time of writing, look as if they’re going to get off scot free.

Here, in bullet point form, are some excerpts from the testimony of the estimated 370 victims – all of them white girls, mostly from broken or abusive homes or in “care”, generally aged between about 12 and 15. The abusers were much older men from mainly Kashmiri-Pakistani backgrounds (though one of the convicted men was from Saudi Arabia, another from North Africa), who groomed the girls beforehand. That is they – or one of their younger associates – first showered these vulnerable, emotionally needy girls with affection that some of them had never had before; then they made them feel important and grown up by giving them gifts and alcohol and drugs; then, when the girls were hooked the trap-door suddenly shut and they found themselves being serially abused as sex slaves.

Oh, and the details below – according to the report – are the expurgated version. Apparently there’s other stuff so horrible the report wouldn’t print it.

  • They threatened to blow up my house with my Mum in it
  • I was expected to do things – if I didn’t they said they would come to my house and burn me alive. I had a baby brother
  • They took us to a field where there were other men who had come to have sex with us. I tried not to do it. There were five of them
  • I took so many drugs – it was just a mish-mash
  • Now I feel I was raped – I didn’t have any choice
  • I wouldn’t ever have said no – they’d have beaten the shit out of me
  • It was always Asian men
  • I got deeper and deeper into this group
  • Sometimes I was driven into alleys and woods and men would have sex with me
  • I wouldn’t have done this if I was sober. That’s why the men gave us so much to drink
  • Both men had sex with me lots of times – oral and vaginal
  • I hate them… all they do is rape you… all they want is sex… it’s happened to girls I know, not me before you ask, I not like that
  • When we were at the flats I knew I was there to have sex with whichever men were brought there.
  • He urinated on me
  • I was spit roasted [made to have sex simultaneously with two men]
  • I didn’t want to go to the places to do what I did, but it was my job
  • I went to London on my own to have sex with men they arranged
  • The fear is still very real for me – though they are in jail I still check the cars

This was going on for 15 years, remember. So where, you might wonder, were the police?

Well the report makes lots of excuses for them. Apparently, they were a bit confused over what technically constituted under age sex – statutory rape as it would be called in the US; they felt ill-equipped as to how to respond when, say they found a middle aged Pakistani taxi driver in a car with condoms and a drunk girl looking no older than 14 (yeah: maybe it was just her boyfriend, right?); and they hadn’t been taught properly about CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation), which is the formal term now given for this kind of crime.

But the really damning thing for me is the report’s revelations that actually some police officers DID try to speak out, desperately and repeatedly, only to have their concerns squashed or ignored.

[Feel free to skip the extract below. I’ll parse it for you afterwards anyway]

In the Police, there were some illustrations of more junior staff formally informing senior officers about their concerns. In 2006, the then Missing Persons Coordinator (a constable) wrote to the Detective Chief Inspector, copying in the Oxford and Oxfordshire Commanders, about a lack of inquiry into where two girls were or giving them due priority. The Police said this led to better multi-agency planning and a Police visit to Lancashire where there was more experience of sexual exploitation. In 2010, a sergeant wrote to the CAIU Detective Inspector in charge of Missing Persons describing many of the features now known as CSE, and this was fed into subsequent meetings of the Missing Persons Panel.

There is also an example where a City Crime and Neighbourhood Nuisance Officer was hugely concerned about a particular child and escalated to senior staff in other agencies, but not within his own. His Chief Executive was unaware of it until this SCR, despite the work being subject to a director-level complaint from the County Council. The Nuisance Officer was a former Detective Sergeant and acting Detective Inspector with experience in child protection sections of the Police. In 2007-8, he repeatedly raised concerns with senior CSC and Police staff (including the then Director of Children’s Services, but not above his own City team leader) about a particular family and child (one of A-F who was at times looked after), describing her behaviour and associates which today would lead to a speedy recognition that something bigger might be happening, but which at the time led to rather harsh disregard and criticism. For example, in February 2007, he reported “men going into the flat every night and leaving in the early hours of morning” and seeing the 13-year-old lying under a cover with an adult male (which led to a Police Protection Order). He also sought a child protection case conference after a rape allegation but this was turned down. He and a colleague told the OSCB City subgroup about the risks to children from massage parlours and reminded the meeting that his team was continuing to pass to the Police information about 14 and 15 year olds being seen in cars with older men.

This episode is one that agencies must learn from. The Nuisance Officer concerned was helping manage a situation with a very difficult challenging family where the behaviour of adults was the prime focus, but where the behaviour of one child in this review was also a serious issue. The officer gathered very significant information about the girl, her association with much older adults, and her general access to risky situations – having argued in 2007 against her coming off the Child Protection Register, as she was going missing so often.17 He resorted to sending emails to many senior Police and CSC staff such was his concern (which seem from what is known about the child and exploitation quite justified). The SCR has seen correspondence with Police and Social Services about the girl with adult males late at night in January, February, March, June 2007 and February March and May 2008 (when she was 13 or 14 and was under Council supervision or formally in Care)

Whilst Police responses were calm and aimed at reassuring him (and implicitly supported the officer’s intentions, once encouraging him to continue his communications with the County Council), responses from a CSC senior manager were, in the author’s opinion, rather hostile and demeaning. The Nuisance Officer’s emails included phrases like “can we all live with risk that this young girl is exposed to in view of the intelligence we have of her association with Males”. He referred to both ‘Asian’ and ‘black’ males on several occasions. The child was subject to a Care Order and the risks being described were at times when resident in Council care. One CSC response to concerns about sexual association with adults said: “The innuendo relating to her alleged associates I find a little presumptive and unsavoury, and does not in my view indicate a significant prima facie risk of harm…” Another email said that “the evidence beyond innuendo remains thin”. (By this point there were numerous reports collated by the Nuisance Officer of association by the then 14-year-old, late at night, with adult men.) The writer of those messages accepts that their tone was wrong, but at the time believed the course of action the Police and CSC were taking to focus on reducing missing episodes was right.

It’s hard, I would concede, to penetrate all the jargon here. But that in itself I think is indicative of how and why this so-called CSE – organised gang rape, as I prefer to call it – has been able to proliferate in so many towns all over Britain for so long. Note the bureaucracy; the compartmentalisation; the obsession with job designations and accepted practice. This is not a world where people feel any obligation to do the right thing, merely to tick all the right boxes. You get the impression that almost nobody was interested in organised child gang rape until it was given an official label. Or, to put it another way, it seems never to have occurred to many of those in the police or at Oxford council that 11-year old girls being drugged and serially raped and prostituted by gangs of middle-aged Muslim was an issue of concern until they were formally told it was an issue of concern.

Another thing that bone-dry (and ever-so-slightly-exculpatory: it was, after all, written by a social worker) prose fails to capture is what must have been the intense frustration of those few police officers who tried, at almost every possible level, to blow the whistle on what was happening – and still to no avail.

What this indicates is that lots of people in the police knew what was going on – yet still chose to do nothing about it.

Which does rather invite the question: how the hell is the woman who was in charge of the local police – Thames Valley Police – during this period getting out of this not with a reprimand but promotion?

In 2000, Sara Thornton was appointed assistant chief constable at Thames Valley. In 2007, she was promoted to Chief Constable and awarded a CBE. (Now she is off for an even more senior job as chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council. Apparently she is a favourite of Prime Minister David Cameron’s)

So there is no question that a lot of these inexcusable crimes happened on her watch. If she wasn’t privy to all the rumours buzzing around, then that suggests a culpable communication problem within her police force. And if she was privy to them, then why the hell didn’t she do more to stop these revolting child-abusers get away with – and flagrantly too?

As with the chief executives of those too-big-too-fail banks the impression given is that the reward for failure at senior levels of the police is to be given a pat on the back and either promoted – or awarded a nice, fat pay off and a gong. What kind of message does that send out to the Chief Constables of the future? Where is the disincentive for incompetence?

This rule seems to apply even more so to council chief executives. Joanna Simons, chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council, has been offered a £600,000 pay off.

Why? For failing so patently to do the job she was supposed to do?

What’s clear from that report – try though it does to take a generous view of the council’s appalling behaviour – is that Simons presided over a culture of incompetence, political correctness and responsibility-dodging which made those child rapes possible.

Just look at the last par of that excerpt from the report, quoted above. A senior person on the council, Andy Couldrick, who was responsible for Children’s Services, is revealed to have prevented any action being taken to deal with the problem through a mixture of inertia and political correctness.

See how, when an ex-detective whistleblower on the council tried alerting him to the problem, Couldrick’s main concern was not that under-aged girls were being sexually abused but that the whistleblower had brought up the awkward issue of the perpetrators being “black” and “Asian” – something which he found to be “presumptive and unsavoury”.

And so, thanks at least in part to Couldrick’s squeamishness about inappropriate language, dozens more underage girls went on to be drugged, terrorised and raped.

Will Couldrick and his similarly PC colleagues be able to live with their consciences now they know of all terrible crimes they made possible? My fear is that a lot of them will be able to all too easily – for such is their mindset they will know no better.

 

 


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