A former detective, Maggie Oliver who assisted in the arrest of the Rochdale sex groomers in 2012 says offenders, “identified during the original investigation are still at large and abusing young girls in the town.”
Maggie Oliver who has made these comments just before the release of a new drama, “ Three Girls” which recounts the story of how child abuse victims in Rochdale were dismissed as prostitutes and in her view let down by the authorities.
She was recruited by the BBC as a Consultant for the drama. She persuaded many of the victims at the time to come forward but later resigned because of the way they were treated.
Nine members of the Rochdale gang were convicted in 2012 and 19 more have been jailed since, the last in February 2017. Maggie has stated that, “other offenders who were identified as a result of Operation Span remained at large.”
“There are still paedophiles who we identified as part of Span who are out there right now in Rochdale. I still support many of the girls and they tell me they’ve seen them. Once a paedophile, always a paedophile in my book. This is still happening.”
“It’s heart-breaking for the kids. My hope is this program encourages a proper, open and honest debate that leads to changes in the law to make senior police officers accountable for their failures.”
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts defended GMP’s record on dealing with child sexual exploitation (CSE).
He said: “Tackling the sexual exploitation of children and young people is an absolute priority for GMP and its partners. Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility and it is crucial that we work together to identify and prosecute individuals who prey on vulnerable children.
“Our specialist CSE teams in each division across Greater Manchester are successfully reaching out to young people. We have specially-trained officers who provide young people with on-going support, both from within the force and through key partner agencies
“We have made huge progress in our fight against CSE and those who commit these horrendous crimes against children. The It’s Not Okay campaign was launched in September 2014 as part of GM-wide Project Phoenix, giving young people and their carers a crucial online resource. The wider campaign provided a completely new approach to dealing with CSE, using education to prevent young people from becoming victims in the first place but at the same time targeting offenders and bringing them to justice.
“Project Phoenix has undertaken substantial work with schools, healthcare providers and support services to ensure that vulnerable young people are helped at every stage – from prevention through to support and rehabilitation. Regular weeks of partnership activity, which include community engagement, disruption, education and police enforcement, means that thousands more young people are being engaged with than before.
This increase in public awareness, as well as enhanced police officer understanding and more accurate recording of CSE reports, resulted in a significant rise in the number of CSE incidents reported to police.
“I want to reassure communities that our priority is to protect children and young people, prosecute offenders and prevent from committing further offences.”
Lesley Sharpe plays Maggie’s character in, “Three Girls “which is broadcast on Tuesday.