Tuesday, 14 January 2020
So now we know. The BBC puts it well: “Social workers investigating child sex exploitation in Manchester knew children were suffering ‘the most profound abuse… but did not protect them’.” Why not? And where is Charlene Downes, the teenager who vanished in Blackpool?
After a child’s death in 2003, police identified at least 97 “predominantly Asian” suspects, but “very few” faced justice, the independent review found. The police operation was “prematurely closed down” after senior officers decided to “remove resources”, it said.
We only know about this because the media got involved. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commissioned the report after the BBC broadcast The Betrayed Girls in 2017. The show shone a light on Victoria Agoglia. The teenager was placed in the case of Manchester City Council after her mother died. Victoria died after being injected with heroin by an”older Asian man”. Before she died, over the course of 18 months Victoria told adults in positions of trust that she was being abused, raped and plied with drugs by paedophiles. In 2004, a 50-year-old man was cleared of her manslaughter. He admitted two offences of injecting her with heroin and was jailed.
The Guardian reported on her death:
Manchester city council is investigating how Victoria Agoglia, known to her family and friends as Vicky Byrne, managed to run away from her care home and take the drug. She moved to a house on the outskirts of Rochdale in April with a team of residential care workers who were supervising her 24 hours a day. She absconded in the middle of last week, before she took the drug, and became ill on Saturday morning… Shortly after she was admitted to hospital, a man of 50 and a woman of 29 were arrested. They were released on police bail.
And what did the police do? Well, they looked busy. The GMP launched Operation Augusta. It would tackle “the sexual exploitation throughout a wide area of a significant number of children in the care system by predominantly Asian men”. It spotted at least 57 children “as potential victims” and up to 97 “persons of interest” involved in the crimes against them. They identified eight men who had gone on to commit rapes against children. And then they shut the thing down. The BBC notes, “one suspect vehicle uncovered in the initial investigation was linked to a GMP officer, who was later dismissed from the force.”
Police received this note written by Victoria – they ignored it:
“I am only 13. I got the rest of my life ahead of me. I have slept with people older than me. Half of them I don’t even know there [sic] names.”
And get this from 2013:
Margaret Oliver, a former detective constable, quit the force in disgust over the way three separate inquiries into gangs of men having sex with underage girls were handled. In one instance, an aborted foetus from a 13-year-old abuse victim was kept in an evidence store after officers took it without the mother’s knowledge or consent. Officers established the identity of the father — a married Pakistani taxi driver in his thirties — through DNA evidence in February 2009 but did not charge him for almost two years. Oliver, who has been commended for her work during murder and gang crime inquiries and who worked on sex abuse investigations in 2004 and 2010, later broke the news to the 13-year-old and her mother that the foetus had been retained. She believes that hundreds of cases of alleged abuse were mishandled or ignored by Greater Manchester police (GMP).
This new report notes:
“(Victoria’s) exposure to sexual exploitation by adult males was known to police and social services and, despite the risk of significant harm caused by the men who were sexually exploiting her, statutory child protection procedures, which should have been deployed to protect her, were not utilised and the strategies put in place to protect Victoria were wholly inadequate.”
Children are ignored. Poor children are seen as fair game and damned. We know some of what happened then. What’s happening now?