Stockport MP Ann Coffey has this week produced her updated report into child sexual exploitation in the Greater Manchester area.
This 58 page document reveals some worrying figures which suggest continued failings by Greater Manchester Police in dealing with this problem which is continuing to grow.
The first and most stark statistic is that the number of young people identified as victims of or at risk of child sexual exploitation has almost trebled since 2015. There were 1,732 young people identified as victims or potential victims.
The report highlights the case of a mother whose 13 year old daughter was being groomed. In 2003 this was reported to GMP and the child’s computer and mobile phone were handed to police. Some ten months later the family had heard nothing and in the meantime the alleged abuser had gone on to groom and sexual abuse another girl. He was eventually charged and jailed for four and half years for this offence.
The report highlights continued delays by GMP in analysing data from computers and mobile phones.
It can take on average five months for data to be analysed and as can be seen from the above case study a lot of damage can be done within that period. The Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, suggests that the report “shines a positive light” on the police but these delays are surely unacceptable.
It is undoubtedly the case that strenuous efforts have been made since the Rochdale abuse scandal both by the police and other agencies but whether these efforts have gone far enough is questionable. We were starting from a position where the police saw the Rochdale victims as “exercising a lifestyle choice” in the abuse they suffered at the hands of Asian gangs. An entire culture change was needed within GMP as to how these claims were dealt with and whilst Ann Coffey’s Report suggests that some progress has been made there is still a long way to go before the children and young people of the Greater Manchester area receive the protection they need from exploitation.
It cannot be reasonable for there to be a five months delay in analysing computer/telephone data giving an abuser time to potentially commit other offences.
As the head of a department based in Manchester specialising in claims on behalf of the victims of abuse we have not seen any particular downturn in the number of enquiries we are receiving from local victims and this is certainly a problem that is far from being resolved.
To speak to a specialist abuse solicitor in confidence, please call 0330 134 6430 or contact us through our online contact form.