Groomed Oldham schoolgirl raped multiple times no longer trusts Greater Manchester Police

Report by ITV Granada Reports correspondent Elaine Willcox

A young woman repeatedly raped by a grooming gang in Oldham when she was just 12 says she does not trust the police to protect schoolgirls now.

Sophie, who was at the centre of a highly critical report into child sexual exploitation, has rejected a personal apology from the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), and says she has lost all faith in his force.

She is now calling on another force to investigate her case, and says she told Chief Constable Stephen Watson she has waited too long for his force to do their job.

"There are probably hundreds of 12-year-olds right now suffering, and what they have done so far is not enough," she said.

She added: "We have no faith in GMP whatsoever, it’s taken 10 years to get to where we are now and us victims want our cases independently investigated by another police force."

Sophie was a schoolgirl when she went to her local police station in Oldham to report being groomed and sexually assaulted.

Instead, her cry for help was ignored, she was turned away for being 'drunk' and told to come back when she was 'sober'.

Minutes later she was picked up outside the police station by a gang of Asian men, driven to an address where she was passed around and raped multiple times.

Speaking of what happened, Sophie said: "If you can’t go to the police station for support who can you go to?"

GMP's Chief Constable Stephen Watson has personally apologised to 'Sophie's for his force's past failings

The report, into the historic child sexual exploitation in Oldham, found interventions by Oldham Council and GMP fell "far short" of what was required.

It added that denials made to Sophie by the council and GMP led to "the impression both were more concerned about covering up their failures than acknowledging the harm that had been done."

But, despite the failings, the authors found "no evidence... to suggest senior managers sought to cover-up the existence of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)", or evidence of widespread abuse.

A review of CSE in Oldham says agencies were more concerned about covering up their failings in Sophie's case

A whole chapter of the review, detailed the 'serious failings' and 'missed opportunities' to safeguard Sophie and protect her from the abuse.

GMP were told the names of two of her attackers in 2007 but have still failed to charge either of them with a crime.

When as an adult Sophie complained to the council about the handling of her case, officers told her too much time had passed for it to be looked into.

Sophie raised her case with MPs and the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee had sought assurances from Oldham Council, there hadn't been failings in her case, but that was both misleading and wrong.

Report into CSE in Oldham found serious failings and missed opportunities to protect victims of grooming

The report's authors said they had been told by Sophie's social worker she did not want to cooperate.

Oldham's Managing Director of Children's Services had advised against contacting her, as 'it could be damaging to her welfare'.

Sophie says this was an attempt to "silence her and cover up their failings" in her case, and "speaks volumes now about the culture and how they treat grooming survivors, particularly if it exposes the authorities failings".

She believes there was evidence of a grooming gang operating in the property where she was taken to and that has never been properly investigated.

She said the review, ordered by Greater Manchester's Mayor Andy Burnham "isn't worth the paper it is written on and just skimmed the surface" by failing to look further into claims of a grooming gang.

She has added her voice to calls for a more wide-ranging government back review into the failings at Oldham Council and GMP.

Sophie told us on ITV Granada Reports an apology isn't enough she wants her rapists jailed

Tempers flared at a meeting of Oldham Council on 27 June when members of the public challenged the authority's record on safeguarding.

Sophie says she has waited 16 years for all the men who abused her to be properly investigated.

She says she has been 'failed' numerous times in a series of 'botched' investigations into her case but she won't stop until the grooming gang are behind bars.

Maggie Oliver has been supporting Sophie's fight for a new force to investigate her abuse

Sophie went to the meeting, on Monday 7 July with Maggie Oliver, a former detective who blew the whistle on the Rochdale grooming scandal who has supported Sophie in trying to get justice.

The Maggie Oliver Foundation has referred 33 cases of 'horrific historical abuse' to GMP in the past six months and says progress is still 'worryingly slow'.

Greater Manchester Police says it now has dedicated Complex Safeguarding Hubs in every district, where multi-agency teams actively safeguard vulnerable children and provide specialist support to anyone who comes forward as a victim of CSE.

The team running Operation Sherwood, which is supporting CSE victims in Oldham has been expanded and now has 106 officers pursuing offenders.

The force says it hopes the "multi agency response to safeguarding and tackling CSE, will provide some comfort to those we let down in the past, and encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward today."