We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

IOPC to investigate GMP officers over child exploitation case

The police conduct watchdog will investigate three former officers over supervision and setting the direction of Operation Augusta.

Three former Greater Manchester Police Officers and their involvement in Operation Augusta will be investigated by the IOPC following a review by the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Office in January 2020. It raised concerns about the conduct and decision-making of some of the officers involved.

Operation Augusta was a 2004 police and social services investigation into child sexual exploitation in South Manchester. But subsequent inquiries and reviews following the conviction of nine men in 2012 revealed more cases had not been followed up.

The operation was closed down in July 2005, despite having details of 97 potential abusers – predominantly older Pakistani men - and at least 57 potential victims, half of which were prepared to cooperate with the force’s investigation.

In November 2012, Sara Rowbotham, a manager of the Rochdale NHS Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), reported to the Home Affairs Select Committee that she had made around 103 referrals to the police in respect of young people being sexually exploited. Following the convictions, Rochdale Local Safeguarding Children Board undertook a serious case review (SCR) into seven children.

The report for Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, said that the force and the council failed to safeguard girls who were being groomed and abused “in plain sight”. It focused on the death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia, who died in 2003 after her 50-year-old abuser injected her with heroin.

It also revealed that neither the council or police force were able to identify who was responsible for the decision to close down the  investigation, as neither were able to reproduce the minutes from the meetings where it was communicated.

Maggie Oliver, former detective turned whistle-blower, told Police Oracle that the Greater Manchester Police officers involved in the decision to close Operation Augusta should face criminal prosecutions.

She had been involved in the investigation and formed many relationships of trust with the girls. She had been taking compassionate leave to care for her late husband, who was in terminally ill, in March 2005 and returned in September after Operation Augusta had been closed. Ms Oliver said it was as if the investigation “had never existed”.

She said: “This was not about individual failures or neglect or an inability to investigate – these were decisions from people at the top.”

GMP made a referral to the IOPC in February 2020.

At the time, GMP Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, who became head of the force in 2015, said: "I am personally disgusted by the awful abuse that these children suffered."

"That is why I immediately commissioned a police review of Operation Augusta as soon as I was made aware of the early findings of the Independent Assurance Review."

The IOPC has since taken advice on whether it had the legal power to investigate the officers involved as some had retired and others no longer worked for GMP but had moved onto other policing bodies.

The watchdog is now focused on three former officers and their conduct in the supervision and setting the direction of Operation Augusta.

Two have retired and the third is currently working for another organisation. The IOPC has not named them.

IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan: “This has been a lengthy but necessary process, and it has taken some time to gather the information required to make a decision whether it was necessary to investigate, and who should conduct the investigation.

 “The Mayoral review raised many questions about the actions of those involved in Operation Augusta. We have now decided it is necessary to investigate the individual conduct of these three former GMP officers who were all involved in either supervising or setting the direction of Operation Augusta. We now need to establish and examine all the available evidence. The investigation is in its early stages.”

Leave a Comment
View Comments 13
In Other News
IOPC investigation into OP Augusta officers discontinued
GMP given six months to improve after failing to record 80,000 crimes
Inquiry into Manchester bombing to hear from Security Services
Misconduct allegations against former ACC dropped
Love Island former PC admits lying at disciplinary hearing
GMP and children's services failed in Operation Augusta, report finds
Former detective launches appeal for grooming victims help centre
GMP set to close Serious Sexual Offences unit
More News