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Rochdale grooming gangs’ victims receive apology and damages

Three victims of the grooming gangs have received “substantial damages” and an apology from the GMP Chief Constable.

The three women, one of whom was 14 and the other two 12 at the time, met CC Stephen Watson at GMP’s headquarters on Tuesday afternoon to be given an in-person apology for police failings.

CC Watson apologised for the failure of the force to protect them and investigate abusers, failings which happened under previous Chief Constables, including Sir Peter Fahy.

CC Watson told the women: “It is a matter of profound personal regret that your childhood was so cruelly impacted by the dreadful experiences which you endured. GMP could and should have done much more to protect you and we let you down.”

One of the three women, Daisy, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said: “I don’t know if I believe that Greater Manchester Police have really changed their ways as they say they have, but I’m happy that they’ve taken into account their failings and there’s finally been some accountability.”

The three women, backed by lawyers from the Centre for Women’s Justice charity had brought a legal claim against GMP.

Lawyers successfully argued that the victims’ human rights had been breached by GMP failing to protect them, including by failing to record crimes, investigate offenders, collect intelligence and charge and prosecute abusers.

Though the abuse was happening “in plain sight”, a police operation to tackle the gangs was closed down abruptly in 2004, despite police and social services having the names of the men involved and their victims.

Eight years later, following a second major police investigation, Operation Span, nine men were convicted for sexual exploitation of children in Rochdale.

Former detective constable Maggie Oliver resigned from GMP in 2012 to turn whistle-blower over the force’s failings.

Ms Oliver, founder of the Maggie Oliver Foundation, a charity that supports and advocates for survivors of child sexual abuse, said: “I feel relieved that finally, after an all-consuming 10-year battle, GMP have at last acknowledged their horrific treatment of these three victims was wrong, even inhumane.”

GMP settled the claim before the matter got to court.

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