Police and social services have apologised for the failings and missed opportunities that allowed a gang of men to carry out appalling abuse on young girls in Oxford for six years.
When Thames Valley Police was first made aware of allegations of rape and sexual assault against teenagers in August 2006 — and on at least three further occasions — it failed to pursue the investigations after the terrified victims withdrew their complaints.
Seven men of Asian or North African origin were found guilty of grooming six vulnerable white girls before putting them through a “living hell” during which they were forced to commit acts of “extreme depravity”.
In a case that bears harrowing similarities to the Rochdale grooming scandal, carefully chosen victims were showered with gifts and plied with alcohol and drugs before being subjected to years of terrifying abuse.
- Asian grooming gang convicted of appalling acts of depravity on children (telegraph.co.uk)
- Oxford child sex grooming gang: Calls for inquiry as authorities accused of ‘turning a blind eye’ (mirror.co.uk)
- Paedophile gang drugged, raped and sold into prostitution girls as young as 11 (standard.co.uk)
- Oxford grooming gang raped and beat girls as young as 11 (theweek.co.uk)
- Oxford abuse ring: social services failed me, says girl (guardian.co.uk)
The gang recruited its victims from the Oxford area between May 2004 and January last year, deliberately targeting vulnerable girls.
Some were spotted drinking or playing truant along the city’s Cowley Road, while others were chosen as they were living in care homes.
Once under their control the abusers forced the girls to have sex using threats of extreme violence. Some were gang-raped, while others were prostituted to men who would travel from all parts of the country to have sex with them.
If the girls did not comply, they were beaten and burned with cigarettes. One girl was even branded with her abusers’ initials.
When another victim became pregnant aged 12, she was forced to undergo a dangerous backstreet abortion. Another was abused with sex toys to “prepare” her for one of the gang rapes.
Police were first alerted to the activities of the grooming ring in 2006 when a 14-year-old girl complained that she had been held against her will by two Asian men and forced to take drugs.
Seven months later the same girl was found by officers in an Oxford park saying that she had been forced to perform a sex act on one of the defendants, Akhtar Dogar.
Dogar was interviewed by police but denied raping the girl and the case was dropped when the girl withdrew her complaint.
In the same year another 14-year-old girl told police she had been forced to have sex with several men, but again the case was dropped when she became too scared to press charges.
Police were called again to a guest house after a man dialled 999 to report that he feared a prostitute was being assaulted in an adjoining room.
When police arrived they found a 14-year-old girl cowering in the basement and complaining that she had been raped and beaten. She too withdrew her complaint and the case was dropped.
Social workers claimed they alerted police to concerns about one of the victims who regularly ran away from her care home and was often seen in the company of older Asian men.
A serious case review has been announced while Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire county council apologised for their failure to spot the pattern of abuse earlier. Det Chief Sup Rob Mason said: “Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire county council social services deeply regret that this activity wasn’t identified sooner and that we were too reliant on victims supporting criminal proceedings, and that they suffered a terrible ordeal.”
Joanna Simons, the chief executive of Oxfordshire county council, also apologised to the victims. She said: “We are incredibly sorry we were not able to stop it any sooner. We were up against a gang of devious criminals. The girls thought they were their friends.”
Jon Brown of the NSPCC said the girls had been let down by those supposed to be looking after them.
“The barbaric treatment of the victims in this case was depraved, almost beyond imagination and must never be allowed to happen again.
“The girls were let down by those who were meant to care for them and obvious signs of abuse were missed.”
The case is the latest high-profile trial involving Asian gangs convicted of targeting and abusing vulnerable white girls. Last May eight men of Pakistani origin and one Afghan were convicted of trafficking and raping girls in the Rochdale area.
Last week a gang of Asian men who groomed vulnerable white girls in Shropshire between 2006 and 2009 were jailed for more than 50 years.
Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: “The majority of Asians from all backgrounds abhor these crimes these criminals have brought shame on themselves and their families and the wider Asian communities.
“We have to use our faith to actually tell how horrific these crimes are and how forbidden they are in our faith.”
Two sets of brothers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, and Mohammed Karrar, 38, and Bassam Karrar, 33, were convicted with Kamar Jamil, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, and Zeeshan Ahmed, 27.
Fighting broke out in the dock at the Old Bailey after two other defendants – Mohammed Hussain, 25, and a man who cannot be named for legal reasons – were cleared.
source: The Telegraph