Today we again see in the news headlines details of young girls abused by a paedophile ring, this time in the Oxford area.
Again Social Services are shouldering a significant amount of blame. Joanna Simons accepts that the Council must “take enormous responsibility for what happened’.
After reading about the case following yesterday’s convictions, it is apparent that there are a number of striking similarities between the Oxford case and last year’s convictions in Rochdale.
Both involve vulnerable girls, often in Council care, are being preyed upon by a paedophile gang and exploited mercilessly – often with alcohol and drugs being used to ensure the girls’ compliance.
As a solicitor specialising in helping the victims of abuse, and in particular a number of the victims who were involved in the Rochdale paedophile ring, my concern is the failure by both the Police and Social Services to protect the girls. In Oxford, as was the case in Rochdale, the Police knew about the allegations for many years. Shockingly, it has emerged that the Crown Prosecution Service actually decided to take no action over allegations involving the girls between 2005 and 2006. A number of opportunities to catch members of the gang were clearly missed.
There again seems to have been an attitude endemic in both the Police Force and Social Services that these girls were not ‘victims’ but rather were ‘wiling participants’; and therefore the appropriate action to stop the perpetrators and pursue a prosecution was not taken. These young girls have once again been failed by the authorities that should have protected them.
This attitude must change. I am aware of clients of mine who were passed between paedophile rings in different towns. I firmly believe that Rochdale and Oxford are the tip of an iceberg and that unless attitudes within Social Services Departments and unless Police forces change, we will unfortunately see many more cases of this nature come to light.
By Jonathan Bridge, Abuse Claim Solicitor