Rotherham victim 'disgusted' as 'not ONE professional held to account'

‘I’ve been raped by the system’: Victim of Rotherham grooming gangs is left ‘disgusted’ that ‘not ONE professional will be held to account’ over failures that exposed up to 1,400 girls to abuse

  • South Yorkshire Police ‘failed to protect vulnerable children’ from 1997 to 2013
  • 47 officers investigated by watchdog but all kept their jobs despite complaints
  • Teens were seen as ‘consenting to abuse’ by police, according to investigation
  • Officers were instead told to prioritise other crimes, the report yesterday found 

A Rotherham survivor claims she has been ‘raped by the system’ after a report into the scandal revealed almost 50 police officers all kept their jobs despite looking the other way as 1,400 girls were abused, trafficked and groomed.

Sammy Woodhouse, 37, who was groomed and raped from the age of 14, was left ‘disgusted’ that ‘not one professional will be held to account’.

The long-awaited investigation by the police watchdog – which took eight years to publish and cost £6m – found officers in South Yorkshire ‘failed to protect vulnerable children’ following a series of offences carried out between 1997 and 2013. 

A total of 47 current and former officers were investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – but none were fired, despite 265 separate allegations being made by more than 50 complainants.  

The IOPC’s investigation catalogued how children as young as 12 were seen as ‘consenting’ to their abuse by officers, who were told to prioritise other crimes.

The report was met with an outcry of fury from campaigners and current police chiefs, who admitted victims had been let down.

Ms Woodhouse,  who waived her anonymity, told the Sun: ‘I’m disgusted that not one professional will be held to account.

‘Thousands of children and families have had their lives ripped apart. This has left me feeling like I’ve been raped by the system.

‘Life should be hard for rapists, not us. They get all the rights, we get none.’

Meanwhile, the father of another survivor told the Mirror of his anger that there was no criminal proceedings launched against officers, even though he was previously arrested himself for breaching the peace as he tried to rescue his daughter.

He said: ‘It is the biggest disgrace I’ve ever known. It’s insulting to every single girl and family member.

‘They’ve just turned a blind eye like everyone else. I find it very very sickening and absolutely atrocious that we have not seen any justice for this at all.’

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said yesterday’s findings ‘fail to identify any individual accountability’, while the town’s MP said the report ‘lays bare the appalling systemic failures at South Yorkshire Police’.

Locals in the town also expressed their disgust, including sisters Danielle Holmes and Tammy Frail.

They told the BBC: ‘The police didn’t do a good enough job to protect people.

‘We know a couple of the victims and we know they didn’t get the full support that they probably should have received. I bet they feel like they were punished, not the police.

‘If you’re going to the police for help, they should help you. It doesn’t make you feel safe when they only get a final written warning.’ 

The IOPC report detailed how one parent concerned about a missing daughter said they were told by an officer ‘it was a ‘fashion accessory’ for girls in Rotherham to have an ‘older Asian boyfriend’ and that she would grow out of it’.

The document revealed how the watchdog upheld a total of 43 complaints made against the force. These blunders included: 

  • Failing to investigate an older man who was found undressed in a bedroom with one of the victims;
  • Not acting when a criminal handed over a missing girl to them as part of a ‘deal’ not to arrest him;
  • Doing nothing after approaching a parked car which a victim and her sister were in – even though the abuser told them one of the girls had just performed a sex act on him;
  • Telling one girl’s father nothing could be done because of ‘racial tensions’ surrounding the investigation;
  • Failing to safeguard a victim who was driven 180 miles to Bristol by two men

Rotherham grooming gang survivor Sammy Woodhouse, 37, said she has been ‘raped by the system’

Women including Karen MacGregor (bottom-middle) and Shelley Davies (bottom-right) were among the historic abusers

Abusers: (Top row, left to right:) Tayab Dad, Nasar Dad, Basharat Dad. (Bottom row left to right:) Matloob Hussain, Mohammed Sadiq and Amjad Ali groomed two girls in Rotherham

‘Victims and survivors let down’: South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner lays into force as he claims report ‘fails to identify any individual responsibility’ over Rotherham grooming

The long-awaited report into more than 200 allegations of police failures in relation to child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham ‘fails to identify any individual accountability’ and ‘lets down victims and survivors’, a police and crime commissioner has said.

Of the 47 officers investigated, eight were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

Five of these officers received sanctions ranging from management action up to a final written warning. 

Another faced a South Yorkshire Police misconduct hearing earlier this year, and the case was found not proven by an independent panel.

In many cases, officers had retired and could not face disciplinary proceedings, the IOPC said. 

Only two cases reached the point of a public adjudication hearing.

South Yorkshire’s PCC, Alan Billings, said: ‘I am disappointed that, after eight years of very costly investigations, this report fails to make any significant recommendations over and above what South Yorkshire Police have already accepted and implemented from previous investigations some years ago.

‘It repeats what past reports and reviews have shown – that there was unacceptable practice between 1997 and 2013 – but fails to identify any individual accountability.

‘As a result, it lets down victims and survivors.’

Dr Billings added: ‘A great deal of time and money has been spent for few new findings or accountability.’

He said it is unfair that officers have had allegations of misconduct ‘hanging over them for so long’, but said the force is now ‘on a path of continuous improvement’.

IOPC director-general Michael Lockwood said in the report: ‘We found that officers were not fully aware, or able to deal with, Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (CSE) offences and showed insufficient empathy towards survivors who were vulnerable children and young people.

‘We saw examples of SYP seeing children, and young people, as ‘consenting’ to their exploitation, and a police culture that did not always recognise survivors as victims, or understand that, often, neither did those being groomed or abused.’

The IOPC identified systemic problems within South Yorkshire Police at the time, detailing how CSE in Rotherham was dealt with by a small ‘overwhelmed’ unit, which had a number of other responsibilities.

The report criticised the force for prioritising other crimes, such as burglary and vehicle crime, at the expense of CSE and it found ‘little evidence that SYP’s leadership identified, and acted on, emerging concerns about (CSE)’.

IOPC director of major investigations Steve Noonan said: ‘Our report shows how SYP failed to protect vulnerable children and young people.

‘Like other agencies in Rotherham at that time, it was simply not equipped to deal with the abuse and organised grooming of young girls on the scale we encountered.’

Mr Noonan praised the survivors of CSE in Rotherham who came forward to help his investigators conduct the biggest inquiry the watchdog has undertaken apart from the Hillsborough disaster probe.

He said 51 people made complaints, including 44 survivors, involving 265 separate allegations.

Of the 47 officers investigated, eight were found to have a case to answer for misconduct and six had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

Five of these officers received sanctions ranging from management action up to a final written warning. Another faced a South Yorkshire Police misconduct hearing earlier this year, and the case was found not proven by an independent panel.

In many cases, officers had retired and could not face disciplinary proceedings, the IOPC said. Only two cases reached the point of a public adjudication hearing.

South Yorkshire’s PCC Alan Billings said: ‘I am disappointed that after eight years of very costly investigations, this report fails to make any significant recommendations over and above what South Yorkshire Police have already accepted and implemented from previous investigations some years ago.

‘It repeats what past reports and reviews have shown – that there was unacceptable practice between 1997 and 2013 – but fails to identify any individual accountability.

South Yorkshire’s deputy chief constable Tim Forber (pcitured) admits the force let victims down

Rotherham MP says report ‘lays bare the appalling systemic failures’ 

The town’s Labour MP Sarah Champion said the report ‘lays bare the appalling systemic failures at South Yorkshire Police’.

‘It has taken eight long years, but the truth is now out for all to see,’ she said.

‘I know from conversations with survivors of abuse that their main motivation for engaging with this process was to ensure that no other children will be put through the hell they endured. We owe it to them now to make certain that that is the case.’

She added: ‘South Yorkshire Police has improved, but there is still a long way to go before trust is rebuilt, ensuring the people of South Yorkshire have confidence in their police force again.’

‘As a result, it lets down victims and survivors.’

Dr Billings said: ‘A great deal of time and money has been spent for few new findings or accountability.’

He said it was unfair officers have had allegations of misconduct ‘hanging over them for so long’, but said the force was now ‘on a path of continuous improvement’.

South Yorkshire’s deputy chief constable Tim Forber said: ‘We fully accept the findings of the IOPC report which closely reflects those highlighted by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014.

‘The Jay Report brought a stark reality of our failings in handling CSE. We let victims of CSE down. We failed to recognise their vulnerability and failed to see them as victims, for that I am deeply sorry. They deserved better from us.

‘The brave accounts of these girls caused a seismic change in policing crimes of this nature for South Yorkshire Police and the wider police service.’

Mr Forber said: ‘Whilst I am confident we are a very different force today, I will not lose sight of the fact that we got it wrong and we let victims down.’

The town’s Labour MP Sarah Champion said the report ‘lays bare the appalling systemic failures at South Yorkshire Police’.

‘It has taken eight long years, but the truth is now out for all to see,’ she said.

‘I know from conversations with survivors of abuse that their main motivation for engaging with this process was to ensure that no other children will be put through the hell they endured. We owe it to them now to make certain that that is the case.’

She added: ‘South Yorkshire Police has improved, but there is still a long way to go before trust is rebuilt, ensuring the people of South Yorkshire have confidence in their police force again.’

David Greenwood, a solicitor representing 80 Rotherham CSE survivors said: ‘It shows the British public the level of disregard shown by South Yorkshire Police to female victims of sexual exploitation, it explains that even by the pathetically low standards of the police service it was ‘okay’ to not investigate these crimes properly or at all, and it will demonstrate how the system of police complaints has provided zero accountability and needs reform.’

 

South Yorkshire Police’s 43 blunders upheld as complaints by the IOPC 

SYP did not deal properly with information that could have led to a CSA/E perpetrator being prosecuted earlier for their crimes. 

SYP did not take safeguarding action despite officers regularly stopping a car the survivor was a passenger in, and that was owned and occupied by a perpetrator. 

SYP did not investigate an older man after they were found undressed in a bedroom with the survivor. 

SYP did not respond appropriately in a child abduction case which ended with the survivor being handed over to officers by the CSA/E perpetrator as part of a ‘deal’ not to arrest him. 

SYP’s dealings with the survivor were not in line with appropriate policy and guidelines. 

Officers did not follow the right procedures when removing the survivor from a CSA/E perpetrator’s house. Officers did not act appropriately after questioning a man after the survivor’s return trip with him. The force did not do enough to secure a prosecution for men who exploited the survivor, or to obtain a disclosure from them about sexual abuse. That officers who responded to an assault the survivor reported did not take appropriate action, or follow the right procedures, when they told them their assailant had had a firearm. 

Police did nothing after approaching a parked car which the survivor and their sister were sat in with a CSA/E perpetrator, and this was despite the perpetrator mentioning that they had just had a sexual act performed on them by a survivor. 

The police missed safeguarding opportunities including when a traffic officer stopped a CSA/E perpetrator’s car, when the survivor was alone with them. 

A survivor’s father spoke to the police about their daughter and sexual abuse and told us that the officer said to him nothing could be done because of racial tensions and this had been happening for a considerable time. 

SYP was aware of suspects involved in CSA/E from the mid-1990’s and, despite this, failed to adequately deal with perpetrators, leaving the survivor exposed to abuse.

The survivor felt they had not been given the opportunity to raise their concerns safely with police after they said they had been befriended by an older woman who introduced them to older men who sexually abused them. 

The police took insufficient action to safeguard the survivor after a specific incident. 

The police did not safeguard the survivor after an incident involving them being driven to Bristol by two men. 

There was police inaction following concerns, in 2008, that the survivor was being sexually exploited, had been raped, and police did not record concerns relating to the exploiters. 

The survivor tried to report a rape again in 2011, this time to a specialist sexual offences support officer at SYP’s Apollo Unit, but the survivor said the unit was unhelpful. 

That the police did not do enough when the survivor, and another survivor, ran away from two men who were being aggressive and followed them by car. 

The police actively recorded concerns the survivor was at risk of CSA/E but did not investigate a number of incidents they were aware of. 

The police disclosed personal information about the survivor during a 2010 investigation into abuse of another survivor by the same man. When the survivor formally complained about the above, they were assured the officer responsible would be reprimanded but that the survivor was not advised this had happened. 

On three separate occasions, the survivor was in a CSA/E perpetrator’s car when he was approached by the police, and officers failed to safeguard them or investigate the incidents further. 

The survivor complained that SYP knew the perpetrator was involved in CSA/E but failed to stop them. The survivor who had been found after going missing, was taken to a police station but was, unacceptably, transported and locked in a small room. The survivor also complained that police officers regularly saw them in older men’s cars, but usually left them with them, sometimes in remote locations, unless the survivor had been reported missing from home. Police did nothing after approaching a parked car they were in, with another survivor, and a CSA/E perpetrator.

The survivor was groomed and sexually exploited by a network of men and that SYP did nothing to protect them despite the force knowing of some of the perpetrators’ links to CSA/E. 

The survivor complained that police allowed the man to make a phone call from the police station and that he rang them, although their mother answered, and made further violent threats. 

A survivor’s mother heard about their daughter’s risk via social services as opposed to the police, despite the survivor being involved in SYP operations. A formal referral was not made to social services, after a survivor was discovered by police at a house after they had responded to reports of a gunshot. Officers failing to recognise a survivor’s vulnerability and did not submit ‘concern for child’ forms, to PPU, following incidents. 

The force should have done more to protect the survivor earlier than they did, when they became a witness in Operation Central. 

Police did not conduct an effective investigation into the survivor’s suspected rape. An unidentified officer told the survivor’s father that they might ‘learn her lesson’ after a suspected rape had happened. SYP did not do enough to find the survivor after they went missing from home. The survivor felt ‘blamed’ by officers they came into contact with. 

While some efforts had been taken to respond to instances of abuse, there was an overall failure by SYP to understand CSA/E and take action to address it more strategically and consistently. 

 

One of those victims is grooming gang survivor Sammy Woodhouse, who says he abuser treated her like a ‘dead body on a slab in a morgue’ and branded him an ‘absolute monster’. 

She was sexually abused as a 14-year-old by ringleader Arshid ‘Ash’ Hussain and bravely waived her anonymity as a rape victim to expose the paedophile gang.  

She was subjected to horrendous abuse including rape, assaults and coercion with threats to kill her family at the hands of Hussain, and in 1999 at the age of 15, Sammy fell pregnant with the 25-year-old’s baby. 

Opening up about her experience on Crime+Investigation programme Survivors, she told how she was ‘completely out of her depth’ as a teenager and had no idea how ‘dangerous’ Hussain would be. 

Sammy, pictured at 15, was sexually abused as a teen by ringleader Arshid ‘Ash’ Hussain and bravely waived her anonymity as a rape victim to expose the paedophile gang

‘I was pretty much his sex doll; he was an absolute monster. I just felt like a dead body on a slab in a morgue’, Sammy said.  

Hussain was part of a gang in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, who along with many other groups abused over 1,000 children between 1997 and 2013. He was jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences involving nine women, including Sammy.  

‘I grew up in Rotherham, about two and a half miles from the town centre’, said Sammy. ‘I was your average, everyday little girl I suppose.’  

From the age of four Sammy’s dream was to be a dancer, and at 11-years-old she joined a national aerobics squad and began dancing all over the country

Hussain (pictured) was jailed for 35 years in 2016 for 23 offences involving nine women, including Sammy

‘It was great. We would get a minibus and go to my coach and manager’s house in the morning and get your hair and make-up done and we’d all chant songs,’ she recalled. 

However when her grades at school began to slip, her parents pulled her from the dance team, with Sammy admitting: ‘I started to develop a little bit of a lip, so my parents thought by doing that as a punishment would be the best thing. 

‘I think for me when I stopped dancing it had a massive effect, it was something I focused my whole life around. So for that to be stopped and taken away, it did affect things.’ 

Without dancing to pass the time, Sammy began spending more time with her friends, spending evenings in the park drinking and smoking. 

‘There was a particular area where my dad grew up and he hated me being there’, said Sammy. ‘He always said if you go out you are not allowed to be in that area. 

‘It was known for people going out smoking cannabis, drinking, my dad didn’t want me involved in that and my life had gone from being a dancer to going up to the park with a packet of fags and litre of White Lightning with my mates. That was what my life was, that was cool for us to do.’ 

Sammy first met Hussain through a friend and she quickly became besotted as he groomed the teen by taking her out, buying her presents, and paying her compliments. 

‘I was on my local shop with a friend and he started to drive up the street in a silver Astra and I will never forget the first moment I saw him,’ said Sammy. 

‘He was good looking, he was well dressed, he had a big gold chain on…I was just instantly mesmerised by him.’ 

Sammy, pictured in 2017, told how she was ‘completely out of her depth’ as a teenager and had no idea how ‘dangerous’ Hussain would be

Sammy, pictured 2017,  escaped her abuser when he was sent to prison in 2001 for a violent offence, but was instrumental in exposing the gang after she approached The Times anonymously with her story 

She added: ‘I just thought, ‘Wow who’s he?’. He made me feel like an adult and I remember as a kid I always wanted to be an adult, I always wanted to be further on in my years than I was and he made me feel that way.’ 

While she was just 14, Sammy says she appeared even younger when the pair met  and that she quickly started spending more and more time with her abuser. 

‘Things between him and me escalated really quickly,’ she said. 

‘I had a curfew and I was constantly breaking curfew and that’s how my parents started to suspect things, because I was being late and sometimes not even coming home at all.’ 

Sammy was grounded when her parents found out about the relationship, telling how Hussain isolated her from her family by solely blaming Sammy’s father for the family’s concerns. 

‘What he did was actual very clever,’ she said. ‘He worked out the dynamics in my family, he knew my dad was more strict and my mum was more of a best friend. So what he did was started to turn me more against my dad rather than my mum. 

‘So he would say ‘Actually your dad doesn’t like me, but your mum likes me, but she’ll never admit it because she’s scared of your dad’.’ 

She went on: ‘I started to go missing quite a lot, not just for days but for months and weeks at a time.’   

She opened up about her experience on Crime+Investigation’s Survivors which airs on Monday 19th April at 9pm

Hussain was a drug dealer who Sammy says was feared in the area, but as a young and impressionable teen, she had no idea of the potential consequences. 

‘A lot of people feared him and for me where I live and grew up that wasn’t necessarily something I had never heard of’, she said, ‘It didn’t really bother me, it is what it is. You don’t as a kid think about consequences, I just went with the flow.’ 

As well as sexual abuse, Hussain forced Sammy to participate in criminal acts, including driving a stolen car after a post office raid, a burglary, and 20 counts of criminal damage.  

‘I was completely out of my depth’, she said, ‘I didn’t recognise it was dangerous and wrong I thought I’m a teenager having a bit of fun, how bad can things get.’  

Sammy escaped her abuser when he was sent to prison in 2001 for a violent offence, but was instrumental in exposing the gang after she approached The Times anonymously with her claims, leading to the Jay Inquiry.    

Survivors with Denise Welch premiered on CRIME+INVESTIGATION, with the first episode airing on Monday 19th April at 9pm

How Sammy Woodhouse has fought to protect others from enduring abuse  

Sammy Woodhouse grew up in Rotherham and was groomed by child sex gang leader Arshid Hussain when she was 14 years old.

She was subjected to horrendous abuse including rape and assaults and Hussain also coerced her by threatening to kill her family.

He also forced her to rob a post office aged 15 and when police raided Hussain’s home later that year they found her in bed with him but failed to arrest him and charged her with possessing a baton.

Hussain also forced her to fight another girl a few months later, for which Ms Woodhouse was later charged with assault.

She missed much of her education and worked as a stripper and model. She eventually had a child by Hussain but fled to keep him away from his family.

After years of abuse she approached The Times anonymously with her claims, leading to the Jay Inquiry which exposed the Rotherham gang and led to the discovery of more than 1,400 victims between 1997 and 2013. Hussain was eventually jailed for 35 years.

Ms Woodhouse was a teenager when she was groomed by her rapist Arshid Hussain known as ‘Mad Ash’

Ms Woodhouse waived her anonymity on the BBC in 2017.

She has been leading campaigns to change the laws around child sex abuse victims, particularly supporting a bill named after her, Sammy’s Law, that would pardon child sex abuse victims who are coerced into committing crimes.    

The bill was supported by Vera Baird, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, by Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, by Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and by Simon Bailey, the Chief Constable of the Norfolk Constabulary, among several other chief constables and crime commissioners.

Last year she slammed Rotherham Council for trying to help Hussain get in contact with the son he fathered by rape.

She said the council should have opposed taking the step to give Hussain access as she fights for a change in the law to deny rapists access to children they have fathered in sickening attacks.

Sammy Woodhouse 

‘They should’ve fought for that child,’ she said. ‘What they’ve done is hand my son over on a plate to a rapist.’

Ms Woodhouse conducts speaking events at schools and elsewhere, explaining to teenagers, the police and social workers how to recognise that someone is being groomed.

She also wrote a book, Just a Child: Britain’s Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed, which was released in April 2018.

In November 2018, over the first three days, more than three hundred thousand people signed a petition by Woodhouse and Labour MP Louise Haigh, which called for the amendment of the Children Act 1989 to ‘ban any male with a child conceived by rape from applying for access/rights’.

Oldham Council leader apologises for ‘failing’ to protect children from sexual exploitation and grooming gangs after report exposes how one 12-year-old victim was sent away by police only to be repeatedly raped by five men

The leader of Oldham Council has apologised to victims of child sexual exploitation in the town – after a report said some had not been protected from grooming.

Cllr Amanda Chadderton said she would be writing to all the victims in the review and would be happy to meet them personally.

The report looked into the alleged grooming of children in council homes, shisha bars and by taxi drivers in the town and concluded there was no evidence of a cover up or ‘widespread’ child sex abuse in those settings.

Despite ‘legitimate concerns’ of police and the council in Oldham of the far right capitalising on the issue of grooming by predominantly Pakistani men, the authorities in the town, which suffered race riots in 2001, did not shy away from tackling the issue, the report said.

But the authorities did fail some children, notably citing the case of one girl identified only as ‘Sophie’, who was abused aged just 12, after ‘significant opportunities missed’ to protect her.

She went to Oldham police station to report being raped by an Asian man in October 2006.

She was told to come back when she was ‘not drunk’ and was instead taken from the police station in a car and she was then raped in the vehicle, then taken to a house and raped multiple times by five different men.

Both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) should apologise for their failings, the report concluded, after being ‘more concerned about covering up their failures’ than acknowledging they failed to take action.

Cllr Chadderton said of Sophie: ‘I will never pretend to be able to understand fully what she went through, but it’s clear that the council and the police failed in our duty of care towards her – both as a child, and the subsequent responses to her as an adult. For that, I am truly sorry.

Cllr Amanda Chadderton at the press conference on the Oldham CSE report saying sorry

The report on Oldham, pictured, follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester

Report also details how Shabir Ahmed, the ring-leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale, was employed by Oldham Council as a welfare rights officer

‘It is clear that at the time, the police and the local authority did not understand enough about this horrendous crime and how best to support and protect its victims.

‘Much has changed since then. We’ve learned from similar reports and reviews from around the country. From changes to national guidelines and from best practice – and the way we deal with victims of this terrible abuse is now completely different.’

The 202-page report is authored by Malcolm Newsam, a renowned child care expert, and Gary Ridgeway, a former detective superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police.

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective who turned whistleblower (second left) in April

The report also details how Shabir Ahmed, the ring-leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale, was employed by Oldham Council as a welfare rights officer and seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre.

Despite multiple concerns being raised about him and his arrest for the sexual assault of children, police failed to tell his employers.

‘If this had happened, it may have potentially avoided the tragic abuse of other children…’ the report states, citing ‘serious multiple failures’ by both GMP and the local authority.

Ahmed, identified only as ‘Offender A’ in the report, is now serving a 22 year jail sentence.

The report on Oldham follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester, which said victims had been failed by police and local authorities in the city.

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective who turned whistleblower, said: ‘Another day, yet another report about the failures of a police force to protect the most vulnerable in our society, even when there is irrefutable evidence to prosecute offenders and safeguard children.

‘This report yet again clearly evidences catastrophic failings by the force and their repeated attempts to cover up and hide these failings both from the victims and from the public they serve, and that is extremely worrying.’

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: ‘This report continues the process of shining a spotlight on past failures in Greater Manchester.

‘There were serious failings and victims were let down, particularly Sophie.

‘Whilst there was no evidence of a cover-up, we must not flinch from acknowledging shortcomings.’

A criminal investigation has been reopened in Manchester and police watchdogs called in to investigate former senior GMP officers following the grooming report on the city published in January 2020. Both probes are still ongoing.

Is this the most harrowing drama ever shown on the BBC? Horrified viewers are forced to switch off Rochdale child abuse series Three Girls – while others say it should be screened in SCHOOLS

A dramatisation of the Rochdale abuse scandal divided viewers in 2017, as some switched off while others said it should be shown in schools.

Three Girls is a three-part BBC drama telling the true story of the widespread grooming and sexual assault of girls in Rochdale by a gang of Asian men, which was revealed in 2012. 

Maxine Peake stars as Sara Rowbotham, a sexual health worker who blew the whistle on the scandal. 

Three Girls, a three-part drama on BBC One. Above, Holly, played by Molly Windsor, Ruby, played by Liv Hall, Sara Rowbotham, played by Maxine Peake and Amber, by Ria Zmitrowicz

Viewers tweeted their reactions to the show, with many saying it was tough to watch, and some even turning off midway through

Nazir Afzal, who brought the case for the CPS, said the show was harrowing but powerful

But the first episode divided the five million viewers who tuned in and saw brutal scenes of teenage girls being beaten and raped.

The drama’s three young girls are a combination of stories from the girls who gave evidence that led to the conviction of the men, but false names have been used. 

The show was created with consent and stories from three girls who are survivors of the abuse.  

Kirsten Barger wrote on Twitter: ‘Have had to stop watching – it’s too disgraceful awful terrible and still happening somewhere #threegirls’, while viewer Sarah said: ‘#threegirls absolutely grim, this should not be on tv, had to switch off.’

Dawn Ferguson tweeted: ‘Really struggling to watch #threegirls. I just cannot comprehend how those young, vulnerable girls were continually failed.’

THE BRAVE ACTRESSES PLAYING THREE VICTIMS AND THE OFFICER 

DC Maggie Oliver is played by actress Lesley Sharp, who has worked as an ambassador for Barnardo’s for several years. She called the role of DC Oliver in bringing the case ‘crucial’.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Sharp said: ‘We all felt we had a responsibility to be very sensitive and tread very carefully. It’s difficult because it’s a fictional portrayal of real events. It’s not a documentary. You have to have sensitivity. The severity of the situation and what had actually happened to these girls was never very far from our minds.’ 

Molly Windsor, who plays Holly, said getting to grips with the role made her ‘really angry’ about what had gone on.

Speaking to the Guardian, the 19-year-old said: ‘What I found most challenging was that it was true. Normally, if you do a difficult scene, you have a cup of tea and a bit of chocolate and you come out of it. 

‘Whereas this is too much – it made me really angry while I was playing her.’

Ria Zmitrowicz has been acting since 2010 and is known for a role in Mr Selfridge, as well as Youngers and the Midnight Beast. She shared tweets from other viewers as they tuned into the first episode on Tuesday evening. 

Liv Hall, who plays Ruby Bowen, is making her acting debut.  

But for others, the tough viewing was vital – so vital that there was even suggestion it should be shown in schools.  

Viewer Lynn Kelly wrote: ‘#threegirls a shocking story of abuse that’s difficult to watch but needs to be seen. #maxinepeake excellent acting as always @BBCOne’.

Abbie Andrews wrote: ‘#ThreeGirls most uncomfortable, pit of stomach sickening TV I’ve watched in a long time. Amazing performances’, and viewer Maria said: ‘#threegirls is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever watched. But the information needs to be out there.’

Nikhil Khargram tweeted: ‘I’ve never found TV so hard to watch. Absolutely gut wrenching. #threegirls.’ 

Penny Sutherland was among those calling for the programme to be shown to young people, tweeting: ‘#threegirls this needs to be incorporated into the school curriculum to stop it happening to more young girls.’

Steve wrote: ‘This programme should be shown in every school in the country #threegirls’, while another viewer said: ‘#ThreeGirls powerful and hard watch.Needs to be shown in every high school and Wherever social work and safeguarding training occurs.’ 

Three Girls continues on BBC1 tonight and Thursday. 

The Rochdale abuse scandal: What happened?

The Rochdale scandal was finally exposed in 2012, when people learned that for years, authorities had been suppressing knowledge of abuse rings of primarily Pakistani men preying on primarily white teenage girls.

Young women were being raped by multiple men on a nightly basis, after being plied with gifts and alcohol. 

Nine men were sentenced in 2012, and another nine in 2016. In 2012, the men were given sentences ranging from four to 19 years. 

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard that girls would be given alcohol before being passed around for sex at two takeaways, the Balti House and Tasty Bites, in the Heywood area.  

The police were accused by then MP Simon Danczuk of ignoring the cases because they were brought by working class girls. 

Reports have estimated the number of girls abused over the course of the cover-up at 1,400, but some have said it could be as many as 2,000.  

The men sentenced in 2012 included Mohammed Amin who was jailed for five years for sexual assaults and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. 

Abdul Qayyum, known as ‘Tiger’ to his victims, was jailed for five years for conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.  

Adil Khan was convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. He was jailed for eight years. 

Mohammed Sajid, who abused girls in a flat in the city, was jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of conspiracy, sexual activity with a child, rape and trafficking.

Abdul Rauf was jailed for six years after being convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. The court heard he had sex with one girl in his taxi 20 to 30 times.

Abdul Aziz was convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child and jailed for nine years.

The youngest of the group, Kabeer Hassan, was 25 when the abuse happened. He was jailed for nine years for rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.

Hamid Safi was jailed for four years for trafficking and conspiracy but was cleared of rape charges. 

The ringleader Shabir Ahmed, was jailed for 22 years, for rape, sexual assault, trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.  

Zoe and Amber, in episode one of Three Girls. The show divided viewers and some turned off, finding it too hard to watch

Lorna Bowen, portrayed by Lisa Riley, in episode two, to be shown on Wednesday night on BBC One. Also in the shot is Lesley Sharp, playing Maggie Oliver

Allegations had been brought to police on multiple occasions between 2008 and 2010, and after reviews following the court case, Greater Manchester Police apologised in 2015.

In total, 13 officers were investigated and seven were given misconduct notices, but none faced further proceedings after the report was issued. 

After the report, Assistant Chief Constable, Dawn Copley said: ‘I want to say 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.’

In April last year, 10 men were jailed for a total of more than 125 years for sexual offences against eight girls and women in Rochdale.

They included Afraz Ahmed, a former bus driver who picked up two of his young victims from school and offered them free tickets.

He was originally questioned in 2006 but a decision was made not to prosecute him after he claimed the girls’ complaints against him were racially motivated.

Balti House, one of the Rochdale kebab houses where abuse took place, which is now under new management

Former bus driver Ahmed, of Rochdale, was found guilty of various sexual offences, including rape, conspiracy to rape and sexual activity with a child, in relation to five underage victims. He was jailed for 25 years.

Also sent to prison were Choudry Hussein for 19 years in his absence for rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to rape. 

Rehan Ali, of Blackley, was imprisoned for seven years and Kutab Miah, of Rochdale, for nine years after both were found guilty of rape and sexual activity with a child.

Abid Khan, of Liverpool, was jailed for six-and-a-half years and Mohammed Zahid, of Rochdale, for five years after both were found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Mohammed Dauood, of Burnley, was jailed for 16 years after he was convicted of offences in relation to two victims including rape, sexual activity with a child and sexual assault.

David Law, of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, was jailed for 11 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to rape. 

A tenth defendant, Mahfuz Rahman, of HMP Garth, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of sexual activity with a child. He was jailed for five-and-a-half years last September.

A then-40-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 23 years after he was convicted of rape and attempting to abduct a child in relation to three victims. He will serve an additional eight years on extended licence when he is released. 

THE SEXUAL HEALTH WORKER WHO EXPOSED A SCANDAL 

Social worker Sara wrote in the Guardian that she was initially concerned about the BBC’s interest in dramatising the scandal, and feared they could not do it justice.

She wrote: ‘They have managed to powerfully portray a world of desperately vulnerable teenagers who are hidden from view and don’t have a voice. 

‘I cried when I first saw Three Girls. The girls’ brave struggle to bring these criminals to justice is told with sensitivity and insight. 

‘It’s ultimately a story about childhood that ought to spark a national debate about the protections every child should be entitled to.’

The single sexual health worker has also been revealed to be appearing on Channel 4’s First Dates, as she tries to move on from a ‘difficult, dark time’.  

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