4 July 2012, 16:50

Child sex ring in Rochdale, UK

Child sex ring in Rochdale, UK
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The United Nations convention of the rights of the child states that every child shall be protected from all forms of exploitation, victimization and abuse, and receive help. In May this year 9 men were jailed for being part of a child sex ring in Rochdale, a town in the northwest of England.

The Secretary of State Michael Gove ordered immediate investigation. Today’s report is the first phase of the office of the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into Child’s Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups with the special focus on children in care. Carlene Firmin is principal policy advisor on the inquiry.

“The evidence that we’ve gathered as part of the CSEGG Inquiry showed that child sexual exploitation is taking place right across the country. Groups of many men and sometimes with the occasional female involved or all street gang involved in sexual exploit of children grooming them, parting them around the group, engaging in very serious forms of sexual violence, sexual offending and really manipulating, controlling the children who they are abusing and very often in violent circumstances. Some of those children are in residential care and in some occasions we have seen children’s homes themselves be targeted by those who want to exploit children because they know that children in those homes are particularly fragile”.

Christine Beddoe is the director of ECPAT, End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes.

“There are so few protection measures that are placed around the girls in the authority care and particularly in care homes, that these girls are not getting the very special protection and one of the things that’s come out very clearly in these cases is that the adults are not listening to children. The adult care workers are not listening to children and they are not seeing the early warning signs. Whenever a child is going missing for periods of atime, when they are asking for help because of situations they just don’t know how to handle that the adults do start to take action immediately because it’s only then that the professionals who really start to protect these young people”.

The men in Rochdale made the girls to believe they were in relationships with them but the girls were forced to have sex with up to 5 different men in a day, at least 4 times a week, one victim told the police who started an investigation in 2009 but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped it. The abuse continued. Here is policy advisor Carlene Firmin.

“We’ve made 11 specific recommendations but they cover really a number of key areas, one is the quality of care that’s being provided to children in residential units, the consistent training offered to staff, the way in which those in residential units work with the police, for example, up until today. The police weren’t able to request to know where residential children homes were, so they didn’t actually know if there were residential children’s homes on their patch necessarily or whether they were located in dangerous areas. So, these are very kind of specific recommendations about how we are offering protection and the good quality of care to children who are in the residential units. Then in addition to that there are recommendations on how we record children who have gone missing from residential care because there were inconsistencies in different ways of recording that at the moment which makes is very difficult. Children who were going missing from residential care are extremely vulnerable”.

It wasn’t until 2011 that the CPS reopened the investigation after another victim came forward. In May this year 9 men were jailed for being part of the child’s sex ring in Rochdale.

Christine Beddoe says communities across the UK need to change their opinion of children in care homes.

“They are seen as sort of nobody’s children anymore and I think that this has to rapidly change. We have to understand that these children now are completely innocent, that these circumstances are not of their own making that had to change their lives, that had to become harder through all sorts of things that happened to them. They may be victims of abuse in their own family, and so a wider community attitude changes are needed to actually make sure that we protect these young people because they are our future, we shouldn’t just leave them on the rubbish heap”.

Maybe the UK has finally turned the corner looking at the exploitation of children in care but now the government needs to follow through with the money in order to implement today’s recommendations.

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