In August 2008 a girl was arrested for smashing up the counter of the Balti House takeaway in Heywood. She spent 6 hours talking to police and stated that the reason for her rage was that she had been repeatedly raped. Two men were arrested but no prosecution was made. This represented a golden opportunity to smash the ring of sexual abuse.

The police, prosecutors and social workers have now been questioned as to why they failed to act accordingly. Rochdale Social Services were alerted to her allegations but nothing was done to protect her; even though police insist to this day that they believed her story.

This illustrates that the crimes could have been stopped 2 years prior to their uncovering in Rochdale in 2010. Nine men were ultimately jailed for their roles in the sexual abuse and at least two of them will be deported after serving their sentences. The ringleader, a 59 year old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 19 years for conspiracy, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

As many as 47 vulnerable girls were plied with alcohol, money and other gifts before being passed around for sex. Girls who were reluctant to have sex were held down and others drank so much alcohol that they were oblivious as to what was being done to them. The vulnerable girls across Rochdale and Heywood were subjected to on-street grooming by a network of men, mostly takeaway employees and taxi drivers.

Victims of the abuse were introduced to the men by an older white girl known as the “Honey Monster’. This female didn’t face charges because she was considered a victim of sexual grooming herself and had lost all sense of right and wrong. One victim was forced to have sex with up to 5 different men a day, 4 days per week. The girls would be given free food, alcohol, cigarettes and taxis in return for sex. They would then be driven to different houses or flats where there would be other men waiting. The abuse continued for months. The men led the girls to believe that it was normal to have sex with them and that they were in relationships with the girls.

One girl was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night whilst she was drunk and at least 2 of the girls have become pregnant as a result of the rapes; one girl was only 13 when she became pregnant and has since had an abortion.

All 5 girls who were witnesses in the gang’s conviction were known to Social Services at some point during their lives. Police and Social Services have been criticised for failing to take sufficient action due to a fear of being branded racist. There have been serious failings in this case by Social Services; the girls were extremely vulnerable. Social Services also became involved when one of the girls started to arrive at school dirty and smelling of alcohol.

Rochdale Council has apologised for the failings of services during the case. Social Workers failed to link the many reports they received of girls having under age sex. The Council did not listen correctly at the time or monitor the complaints or link them together. This would have prevented the abuse from continuing after that date.

Changes have now been made in Rochdale Council’s Children’s Services and a team of care workers are now present at Rochdale Police Station making information sharing easier. Rochdale Council has also instigated a programme making people aware of the dangers of sexual exploitation.

We see sexual grooming and sexual abuse rings here at Farleys too often and are contacted on a daily basis by people who wish to make a claim against social services. Communication between the various agencies involved and correct action by Social Services could have prevented a lot of this suffering.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and would like to speak to an expert in complete confidence, please do not hesitate to contact me.

By Jonathan Bridge, Child Abuse Claim Solicitor