Serious Case Review to launch in Rochdale

Rochdale Town Hall Photo: PA Images

Rochdale's MP has called for "heads to roll" after authorities at the centre of a child abuse scandal involving an Asian sex gang announced an inquiry.

Simon Danczuk said senior managers at the council who ignored reports of the abuse are still in position.

Rochdale Council announced a Serious Case Review, four months after nine Asian men were convicted of the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of white girls in Heywood andRochdale, Greater Manchester.

The men were jailed for between four and 19 years for the abuse of five girls, some as young as 13. It is believed there may be up to 50 victims in all.

The trial resulted in a national debate over the role of gangs of largely Asian men in grooming white girls and the police and local council in Rochdale came in for heavy criticism when details emerged of what had been going on.

The men, aged between 24 and 59, plied victims who hung around two takeaways in the area, with drink and drugs before the girls were "passed around" for sex.

One girl, aged 15 at the time and who was repeatedly raped, said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour that after becoming pregnant local social services told her parents she was a "prostitute" and that she had simply made a "lifestyle choice". The girl had also reported the abuse to a police officer - who simply yawned.

Mr Danczuk added: "Hearing this young woman speak about the failure of social services and an attitude among professionals that viewed the victims as 'prostitutes' who were making 'life choices' is another reminder of just how hard it was for the victims to be heard.

"Over four months ago I asked David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions to ensure there would be a Serious Case Review and while it's disappointing that it's taken so long for this decision to be made, I'm pleased that Rochdale Council has now committed to a deep and thorough investigation into what went wrong.

"There are some very good people working in Rochdale trying to tackle abuse but unfortunately their efforts were undermined by a culture that failed to show any empathy whatsoever with the victims. To make sure abuse of this scale is not allowed to continue we have to get rid of this culture and make people accountable for the mistakes they made."