More Grooming Gang Arrests in Child Sexual Exploitation Epicentre of Rochdale

Police officers stand guard outside the family home of one of nine British citizens currently detained by Turkish authorities for allegedly attempting to illegally enter Syria from Turkey, in Rochdale, northern England on April 3, 2015. The property is thought to be the home of British local councillor councillor Shakil …
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Greater Manchester Police have arrested a number of suspects involved in historical grooming gang crimes committed against women between 2002 and 2006 in Rochdale, England, one of the country’s most notorious grooming gang epicentres.

The arrests pre-date the infamous grooming gang that operated in the town between 2005 and 2008, which was finally busted by police in 2012 after years of being overlooked by the local police.

The latest arrests came as a part of Operation Lytton, which is one of 49 ongoing investigations into child sexual exploitation in the Greater Manchester area. Police have identified 271 victims of abuse and some 300 suspects.

So far, however, the identities of the suspects have not been made public.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police quoted by the Manchester Evening News explained that “Op Lytton is one of a number of ongoing major investigations into child sexual exploitation across Greater Manchester. This is a complex criminal investigation into non-recent abuse committed in Rochdale between 2002 and 2006.”

“A number of arrests and interviews have already taken place and the investigation continues,” the statement said, but added that “due to the sensitivities associated with offences of this nature, victims are at the forefront of our investigation and it would be inappropriate to release any further information at this time.”

The former Crown Prosecution Service chief prosecutor in the North-West, Nazir Afzal, praised the operation, saying: “I have always said justice delayed is better than justice denied so I very much welcome GMP’s investigation into non-recent child sexual abuse in Rochdale.”

“What we dealt with in 2012 was merely the tip of a national iceberg which agencies didn’t see coming. Now they must continue to put right their earlier wrongs,” Afzal added.

Three men who were jailed for their roles in the infamous Rochdale grooming gang, Qari Abdul Rauf, Abdul Aziz, and Adil Khan, have been revealed to be living in a town where they preyed on young girls, years after being slated for deportation.

In 2012, the men were convicted of a series of charges relating to the sexual abuse of children as young as 12. The men were all released early from prison, however.

As the three rapists held dual citizenship in Pakistan and the United Kingdom, they had their British citizenship revoked following their convictions, with the government promising they would be removed — but this has not happened, despite the trio losing a series of taxpayer-funded appeals.

In 2017, a study conducted by London based counter-extremism think tank, Quilliam, showed that 84 per cent of those convicted of grooming gang crimes in Britain were Muslim men of South Asian heritage.

The study, which was authored by two Pakistani-heritage men, found that the grooming gangs went after young white girls, whom they viewed as “easy targets”, rather than girls from their own communities, whom they felt should be “protected”.

“We began thinking we would debunk the media narrative that Asians are overrepresented in this specific crime,” said author Muna Adil.

“But, when the final numbers came in we were alarmed and dismayed. For both of us being of Pakistani heritage, this issue is deeply personal and deeply disturbing,” Adil added.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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