A serious case review by the Oxfordshire safeguarding children’s board, to be published on Tuesday, will condemn Thames Valley police for not believing the young girls, for treating them as if they had chosen to adopt the lifestyle, and for failing to act on repeated calls for help.Nor are the PC PCs (and DCs and DCIs…) carrying the can on their own.
Indeed, the usual suspects are right there with them.
Oxfordshire social services – which had responsibility for the girls’ safety – will be equally damned for knowing they were being groomed and for failing to protect them despite compelling evidence they were in danger. One social worker told a trial that nine out of 10 of those responsible for the girls was aware of what was going on.And why would that be..? Simple – identity politics.
Not everyone involved shirked their duty, though:
It was not until 2011 when DCI Simon Morton trawled through missing persons reports, health records and social services data that Thames Valley police began to link the girls’ repeated patterns of going missing, returning and going missing again with the activities of the men – some of whom were known to police for drug crimes. After a groundbreaking two-year investigation, Operation Bullfinch, seven men – including two sets of brothers – were convicted at the Old Bailey in May 2013 of 43 offences, which included trafficking, forcing girls into prostitution, procuring an illegal abortion, rape and physical violence.Good for him. I hope he got a commendation. And not hounded, like other whistleblowers.
Weeks before the publication of the serious case review, the chief executive of Oxfordshire county council, Joanna Simons, announced she would be stepping down in the summer, a move questioned by the Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, who said he was “concerned at the decision and how it had been taken”. The council said she would not be replaced and the authority was reorganising its management structure. In a joint message with the council in January, Simons said that in order to protect frontline services, the authority would be making changes to its top team which would involve the departure of the chief executive.Reforming your higher echelons won’t help much. It’s your front-line workers who did the ignoring, and if they did it because they were afraid for their careers due to those higher echelon officers, well, tough. They still did it.
We didn’t accept ‘I was just following orders’ before. Why should we have to accept it now?