Conservative councillors call for handover of Oldham’s CSE investigation to Home Office

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter and Trevor Baxter

SADDLEWORTH’S Conservative councillors have called for government intervention into an investigation into allegations of child sexual exploitation in Oldham.

John Hudson, Graham Sheldon, Jamie Curley and Pam Byrne have put their names to a letter sent to OMBC leader Sean Fielding and their fellow councillors.

An independent review is currently underway into alleged child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the borough dating back to 2011 which concern ‘shisha bars, taxi companies and children’s homes’.

It is being led by experts Malcolm Newsam, a former commissioner for social care in Rotherham, and Gary Ridgway, a former Detective Superintendent of Cambridgeshire Police, who both worked on the Operation Augusta investigation in Manchester.

The Tory quartet now state that since the launch of the review, further allegations have been made online.

“Given the distress this is causing to people living in our borough, we believe that the current scope of the review is now far too narrow and Oldham Council needs to open itself up to the full scrutiny of an independent investigation headed by the Home Office and under the purview of the Home Secretary,” the letter states.

“We asked for an independent investigation last year and asked whether Central government had been called upon with its resources and ability to bring agencies together to investigate all the allegations made.

“Sadly, we do not believe the growing allegations made online and elsewhere can be dealt with by the executive leadership, Mayor of Greater Manchester or Oldham Council alone.

“We are now at a point of no return and it is an issue to which we and every grandparent, parent and person in our borough wants answers to.”

In a response, Cllr Fielding said that the review is underway and yet to report back its findings.

“It would be inappropriate for anybody to pre-empt the findings of this review as doing so risks undermining the process altogether, though I know that is sadly the deliberate intention of some,” he wrote.

“If, at the point that the review reports, their findings are such that issues are identified which warrant further investigation by either the current review team or others, then representatives of all political groups on the council will have the opportunity to discuss appropriate next steps.

“It has been stated repeatedly that the investigation will follow the evidence, and the terms of reference say the scope will ‘not be limited to’ that outlined,” he added.

“If you believe there to be something specific which the review should cover but which isn’t explicitly set out within the current scope I would urge you to outline this clearly so we can share this with the review team.

“We know a range of allegations continue to circulate online and we have repeatedly called on those people to report these concerns through the proper channels so they can be investigated, any victims supported and any perpetrated brought to justice.

“Unfortunately, in many cases these reports have failed to materialise. Neither we, nor any independent review, can investigate incidents based on online rumour alone.

“While there are political activists in our borough who are prepared to exploit the issue of child abuse and therefore child abuse victims for political gain, despite our disagreements I had always considered the Conservative party in Oldham to be better than that.”

Chiefs have confirmed the review will cover the period from 2011 to 2014 but will also consider the specific case of one woman who complained about the handling of her case during 2005 and 2006.

The assurance review will specifically consider allegations made on social media involving shisha bars, taxi companies and children’s homes.

It will also look at the extent to which historical actions and employment records have been ‘adequately investigated’ in the case of ‘known offenders’ previously employed within Oldham public services.

The framework of the review says ‘particular reference’ will be made to concerns that statutory agencies were ‘aware of this abuse, failed to respond appropriately to safeguard the children and subsequently covered up these failings’.

All reports, audits and performance information on the management of child sexual exploitation during the review period will be looked at by the team. They will also look at allegations in social media posts relating to the period 2011-2014.

This will include interviews with individuals who have made ‘significant allegations’, preliminary interviews with senior officers at Oldham council and, if required, former officers.

One Reply to “Conservative councillors call for handover of Oldham’s CSE investigation to Home Office”

  1. Are the Tories going to second Lyin’ Blobin’s motion about this? I am sure the Labour Party won’t hesistate to put in their leaflets that the Tories have lined up with a convicted fraudster and school governor who was removed from his role for safeguarding failures if they do. Check out St. John’s primary school ofsted report. Children placed in danger through the incompetence of the Governing body. Google him too. Brian Hobin, convicted fraudster! You could not make this up!!!

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