Rochdale grooming scandal shows how the victims fought for justice for FOUR long years

Rochdale grooming scandal shows how the victims fought for justice for FOUR long years
May 18 16:04 2017 Print This Article

It was in the summer of 2008 that police started to investigate child grooming in Rochdale – almost by accident.

Three Girls viewers watched last night as the central character was arrested for smashing up a cabinet at the Balti House takeaway.

The character named Holly – known as Girl A in the ensuing court case – bravely told police how she was plied with alcohol and raped by a group of men.

She provided police with a detailed account of the abuse as well as evidence including her underwear, which carried traces of one of her attackers’ DNA.

But it wouldn’t be until 2012 that the men were convicted – and for the nation to hear about the systematic abuse and rape, according to the Manchester Evening News.

After the vulnerable girl’s original testimony, two members of the Rochdale grooming gang – the gang’s ringleader Shabir Ahmed and Kabeer Hassan – were arrested and released on bail.

But the investigation, according to one officer who was involved, was a ‘car crash’.

Officers on the Rochdale division were under pressure at the time to hit ‘volume crime’ targets like bringing down the number of burglaries and were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problem.

More than that, the alleged abusers were Asian men picking on vulnerable white girls.

There were fears that police bosses seemed reluctant to grasp the nettle for fear of being branded racist.

It took police 11 months to compile a file of evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – after interviewing her on four separate occasions.

On one of those interviews a police officer can be heard yawning while repeatedly asking why she had put herself in such a vulnerable position.

And then, in July 2009, an ‘experienced’ CPS lawyer ruled the victim was ‘not credible’ and decided that the two men whom she accused of having raped her should be released without charge.

The abuse of the girls continued until May 2010 – 10 months after the case was dropped – when police decided to revisit the investigation after a Rochdale youth project raised concerns about other complaints.

A new investigation, dubbed Operation Span, was instated, including Detective Constable Maggie Oliver whose task was to convince the victims to speak to the police.

Nazir Afzal, the newly-appointed chief crown prosecutor for the north west, reversed the decision not to prosecute the two who had been arrested and eventually authorised the charging of ten men in June 2011. Nine of them were convicted following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in May, 2012.

Police are called to a report of a 15-year-old girl smashing up the Balti House takeaway in Heywood. She is arrested.

The girl (known then as Girl A and ‘Holly’ in BBC drama three girls) spends six hours bravely telling police how she has been raped repeatedly by a gang of men who threatened her with violence unless she succumbed to horrific abuse which was then shared amongst paedophiles across the north.

August 2008
The girl is interviewed a second time a week later. She described looking at the wall and seeing a child’s clock with an angel on it as she was being raped on a mattress in a room above a takeaway by Kabeer Hassan, whom she had been given to as a ‘treat’ for him.

The interviewing officer repeatedly asks her why she placed herself in jeopardy. He says: “Do you not feel you were putting yourself in a compromising position given what’s happened previously?”

“Yes, (the older girl) was telling me to go,” she answers.

The officer said: “Why didn’t you say no to her?” “I don’t know,” the girl replies.

August 2008
Two members of the grooming gang – the gang’s ringleader Shabir Ahmed and Kabeer Hassan – are arrested.

January 2009
The girl is brought back for two more interviews. The police quiz the two suspects again and now have damning DNA evidence that suggests that the older man did have sex with her. His explanation is that the victim may have swapped underwear with a young girl he admitted he was having sex with.

She will have to undergo two more police interviews before her attackers are charged.

July 2009
A CPS lawyer rules that, after four interviews, the victim was ‘not credible’ and decides that the two men whom she alleged had raped her should be released without charge.

May 2010
New investigation, Operation Span, launched after new complaints. DC Maggie Oliver is tasked with convincing victims to speak with police.

June 2011
Chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal reverses decision not to prosecute the two who had been arrested and eventually authorises the charging of ten men.

May 2012
Nine men convicted following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. One of the men cannot be named for legal reasons.

June 2012
The ninth member of the gang is named as the leader of the group of men. Shabir Ahmed was unmasked as the ‘vile mastermind’ of the group of Asian men. His identity was revealed after he was convicted of 30 counts of rape against a young girl in a separate case.

November 2012
Police, council and the CPS apologise for failures that allowed the gang to abuse girls for two years after the crime was reported.

November 2012
A Commons inquiry hears that Rochdale council’s social services team for children missed 181 chances to stop young girls being abused. Sara Rowbotham, a Rochdale sexual health worker, says girls as young as 14 are still being abused.

March 2013
Maggie Oliver resigns in disgust, claiming that men who abused young girls were still walking the streets and that prosecutors failed to use evidence to convict others aside from the nine who were eventually jailed.

December 2014
Two more Rochdale grooming scandal victims receive compensation from the council. One of the key witnesses, Girl A, received an out-of-court settlement of £125,000 the previous year.

February 2016
Shabir Ahmed tries to block his deportation from Britain using human rights laws. He claims that his convictions for the sick offences were a conspiracy to ‘scapegoat’ Muslims.

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Joshua
Joshua

I am a very driven Web Content Manager with extensive experience in digital writing and editing, strong ability to work with teams and multi-task projects under strict deadlines. I have extensive experience in various CMS, including Vivvo and Word Press. Most of all I am a Christian.

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