Police chief makes 'heartfelt' apology over Rochdale grooming failures

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Stephen Watson Credit: ITV News

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester has apologised to victims of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale.

A report has said that girls were "left at the mercy" of paedophile grooming gangs for years in the town because of failings by senior police and council bosses.

Stephen Watson described the report's findings as "shocking, stark and shameful."

"It remains a matter of profound regret that victims of child sexual exploitation in Rochdale in the early 2000s were failed by Greater Manchester Police - to them, I apologise."

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, who commissioned the report into grooming in Rochdale said it was "detailed and distressing" . Credit: MEN MEDIA

Malcolm Newsam CBE, co-author of the report, said: “Successive police operations were launched over this period, but these were insufficiently resourced to match the scale of the widespread organised exploitation within the area.

“Consequently, children were left at risk and many of their abusers to this day have not been apprehended.”

Mr Watson said: "I also recognise the plight of Maggie Oliver and Sara Rowbotham - who advocated for victims and survivors when no one else did, and ultimately enabled the review and publication of this report.

"Whilst the report rightfully vindicates Maggie and Sara and reinforces the importance of the changes we have already made - many with Maggie's support, it remains to be said that the current prevention of and response to child sexual exploitation in Rochdale and across Greater Manchester has been overhauled since the early 2000s to ensure that victims and survivors are cared for and receive the expected level of service."

Full statement by the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Stephen Watson:

The report identifies 96 men still deemed a potential risk to children, but this is “only a proportion” of the numbers involved in the abuse.

The Rochdale report follows reports by the same authors on grooming in Manchester and Oldham, which found authorities had again failed children leaving them in the clutches of paedophile gangs.