The ring-leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale was employed as a welfare rights officer at Oldham Council, a damning report has revealed.
A major report, commissioned by mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said police and the local council failed to protect some youngsters from sexual exploitation but concluded there was no official cover-up.
The report looked into the alleged grooming of children in council homes, shisha bars and by taxi drivers in the town and concluded there was no evidence of a cover-up or “widespread” child sex abuse in those settings.
Shabir Ahmed PA
Despite “legitimate concerns” from police and the council in Oldham of the far right capitalising on the issue of grooming by predominantly Pakistani men, the authorities in the town, which suffered race riots in 2001, did not shy away from tackling the issue, the report said.
But the authorities did fail some children, the report concluded.
Among its findings, the report revealed how Shabir Ahmed, the ring-leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale known as Daddy, was employed by Oldham Council as a welfare rights officer and seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre.
Despite multiple concerns being raised about him and his arrest for the sexual assault of children, police failed to tell his employers.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester Danny Lawson
“If this had happened, it may have potentially avoided the tragic abuse of other children…” the report states, citing “serious multiple failures” by both Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the local authority.
Ahmed, identified only as “Offender A” in the report, is now serving a 22 year jail sentence.
The report also highlighted the case of one girl, identified only as “Sophie”, who was abused aged just 12, after “significant opportunities missed” to protect her.
She went to Oldham police station to report being raped by an Asian man in October 2006.
She was told to come back when she was “not drunk” and instead taken in a car by a man also visiting the police station, then raped in the vehicle, before being taken to a house and raped multiple times by five different men.
Both Oldham Council and GMP were accused of being “more concerned about covering up their failures” than acknowledging they failed to take action.
GMP then took a “less than candid approach” with MPs, with claims the Home Affairs Select Committee was misled about Sophie’s case.
The 202-page report was authored by Malcolm Newsam, a renowned child care expert, and Gary Ridgeway, a former detective superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police.
The report on Oldham follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester, which said victims had been failed by police and local authorities in the city.