by Matt Gallagher on October 10, 2012
The report into child sexual exploitation in Rochdale makes sobering reading. Delays in getting to grips with the issues and a lack of coordination between agencies failed a number of children who were being exploited.
A number of recommendations have been made to improve matters, and it is essential that these are fully acted upon. It is also vital that we do not see the Rochdale case as an isolated incident. It is clear that there are other areas where children may be at risk, and the findings of the Rochdale investigation should inform all of those agencies involved in dealing with child sexual abuse and exploitation.
There is also work to be done in educating the public, particularly children, of the dangers of predatory behaviour and how to respond to it. In my experience, the first to notice if a child is being ‘groomed’ or exploited are their friends. We need to create avenues where young and vulnerable people can flag their concerns to a supportive and listening system, where action is fast, proportionate and effective.
As Police and Crime Commissioner, I will establish such a mechanism, and insist that a countywide system of education involving young people, community groups and parents is introduced as soon as possible.
We all need to be able to recognise the warning signs, and know what to do if we suspect that children may be at risk. Predatory paedophiles in Greater Manchester need to know that their behaviour will not be tolerated and that a vigorous investigation will be carried out into their activities.
We owe it to the children.