Revealed: NO police officers will be disciplined after FOUR year probe into how GMP failed Rochdale grooming victims
No police officers are to be disciplined after a FOUR year probe into how GMP failed to investigate child sexual exploitation in Rochdale
The force probe into the affair has taken FOUR years to publish. It covered botched criminal investigations in 2008 and 2010.
Seven officers were served with misconduct notices after GMP was ordered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission to carry out an inquiry into the force’s inability to protect under-age girls from predominantly Asian gangs who used them for sex.
The seven were interviewed about their decision-making, handling of investigations, and victim care.
They were the former divisional Chief Supt, John O’Hare, a Superintendent, plus two Det Chief Inspectors, two Detective Inspectors, and one Sergeant.
All received management advice regarding their performance.
One Detective Inspector was found to have a case to answer for misconduct but retired before the inquiry could be completed.
By the summer of 2013 force investigators had identified the Det Insp should attend a formal misconduct hearing but they left the force in January 2014.
The report says he failed to produce any meaningful strategy to support a colleague, called ‘Officer 9’
He chose not to properly update or alert his supervision or any member of the Rochdale Division leadership team about the scale of the abuse.
The reason he gave for this - that they had a large workload - was deemed unacceptable.
‘Officer 9’, a detective, was deemed to have warranted misconduct proceedings but the report says he was ‘overwhelmed’ by the task before him.
It says he ‘worked extremely hard to secure evidence, make arrests, and place compelling evidence before specially trained CPS lawyers’.
But he was not sufficiently supported by his line management who he approached for help.
The report adds that when help was not forthcoming he ‘persevered in an attempt to prosecute known offenders and disrupt others.’
It was therefore decided it was ‘inappropriate to punish someone who acted in good faith’.
Eventually evidence he had gathered in 2008 and 2009 was used in a proper well resourced investigation two years later which ended with a trial in May 2012 and the convictions of ten men.
The report says the force failed the victims as the force was focusing on a government driven policy to tackle burglary, robbery, and car crime.
The ‘churn’ of staff at Rochdale police particularly in the inspecting ranks meant leadership of the issue was not maintained.
There was also a lack of understanding of the complexity surrounding child sexual exploitation by all agencies.
The report was delayed after twice being sent back to the force by the IPCC. The first time the IPCC said the contents were not adequate, and in 2012 they had an issue with the ‘style and tone’ of it.
It was finally ready to publish the summer of 2014 but Rochdale council raised concerns about the possibility that some of he victims could be identified from the report.
Finally, a heavily redacted version has been published today.
The report reveals that into total 13 officers were interviewed but only seven served with misconduct notices.
One officer was advised about his behaviour after being caught on film yawning while interviewing a victim at Middleton Police Station.
'Report is clearest admission yet from GMP that they failed vulnerable young girls'
A watchdog and and MP has slammed GMP for its failure to investigate the case properly at the first attempt.
But GMP insist lessons have been learned and improvements made in the force’s culture regarding child protection.
Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk said: “I’m very disappointed it’s taken so long for this report to come out. It’s been re-written nine times and the offences it refers to date back to 2008. That’s seven years ago and my worry is that some of the offenders that slipped through the net at the time may be still at large abusing children.
“What we’ve learned today is that the police were more interested in investigating the victim rather than the crime and this is completely unacceptable. Today’s report is the clearest admission yet from Greater Manchester Police that they failed vulnerable young girls and yet not one senior officer has been disciplined. Actions like these do not send out a good message and suggest that the impact of these crimes is still not yet properly understood.
“I remain very much of the view that we saw a massive cultural failing on the part of police in Rochdale and officers failed to grasp the seriousness of crimes in front of them. Child rape and trafficking are among the most serious crimes you’ll ever come across. We need strong leadership to tackle this crime and I think we’re starting to see that now but this report is a reminder that the police need to be scrutinised and held accountable if we’re to ensure the most vulnerable people in our region can access justice.”
IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: “Although nine offenders were eventually brought to justice by Greater Manchester Police, it is clear vulnerable young girls were let down by how police initially dealt with their concerns.
“There was a failure to recognise the seriousness and scale of what was happening in Rochdale. It is appalling that young girls were being exploited and abused and the police did not handle it properly. Greater Manchester Police has admitted that the focus in Rochdale was on tackling volume crime such as robbery and burglary. The force simply did not recognise how to respond to child sexual exploitation on this scale.”
Mr Dipple-Johnstone added: “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.
Mr Dipple-Johnstone said: “This matter was first referred to the IPCC at the end of December in 2010. The original investigative work conducted by GMP failed to look at the supervision of the officers and, as a result, we rejected the report and asked for further work.
“A second report was received but again rejected as it needed work to address the learning from these events. That is disappointing and such delays in the investigation of allegations against officers cannot help public confidence. I have highlighted this with the force and written to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to ensure they are sighted on the learning for the force from these events.”
Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, said: “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.
“The single most important thing is importance of GMP recognising vulnerability for what it is, acting swiftly and effectively to protect victims and target offenders. In 2008, collectively that ‘s not what happened.
“Since 2010 we have had a number of CSE operations that have targeted offenders across the force, including Operation Doublet, which has so far seen us bring 55 charges against ten people.
“It is clear that mistakes were made in this investigation. We urge victims to come forward knowing that people will take them seriously and investigate what has happened to them. People who abuse children will be traced and brought to justice.”