A review commissioned by Kirklees Council and Dr Mark Peel of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership has reported that, “Kirklees Children’s Services had sufficient evidence at the time to conclude that two girls were being exploited but no action was taken.”
Last year 20 men were jailed for their part in a Huddersfield grooming gang which raped and abused girls as young as 11 years old between 2004 and 2011. The review has found that out of the 22 women who gave evidence in the trial, “15 were known to the children’s services at the time.”
Dr Peel has stated that there were two girls were there was evidence that the girls were likely to be engaged in sexual exploitation and no action was taken to protect the girls. It was found however, that the majority of girls received, “services of an acceptable standard”.
In relation to the two girls it was reported that:
“It was noted in 2007, when she was 16, “she is being exploited into prostitution, she hangs around with a number of men who take her money”, adding, “she is a very promiscuous girl”.
In relation to another girl it was noted “[she] is getting into cars with men for the purpose of drugs, alcohol and sexual exploitation” and she was spending time with two other girls, one of whom also featured in the recent trials.”
Dr Peel has made the following statement:
“It is my contention that children’s services officers knew at the time that these young women most likely to have been engaged in inappropriate, exploitative and illegal sexual activity to the extent that they had sufficient evidence to conclude these vulnerable young women were at risk of ‘serious harm’.
“In both instances, however, it would appear that, other than recording this information, no subsequent preventative safeguarding action was taken, and that thus an opportunity to break the CSE ring operating in Kirklees, and protect these girls directly and others more generally, was lost.”
Director of Children’s Services for Kirklees Council Mel Meggs in response to the report said:
“Dr Peel has been clear that the vast majority of cases were handled in line with the policy and practice of the time.
However, the studies of ‘Girl 4’ and ‘Girl 8’ show that, historically, professionals did not always spot the signs of exploitation and did not always respond appropriately to concerns.
We are truly sorry that these two girls were not protected in the right way.”
A report by the National Working Group CSE Response Unit into the council’s current practice, “found the authority had a “passionate workforce [with] a determination to tackle CSE and other forms of exploitation”.