Sex abusers walking the streets of Rochdale due to failure to use witness evidence

Date published: 26 March 2013

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk went on record weeks ago saying police were failing sex abuse victims and the police angrily dismissed his allegation. However, a former senior Greater Manchester Police officer is now saying the same.

Former Det Con Margaret Oliver says men alleged to be part of a child-grooming ring in Rochdale were never brought to justice because the evidence of teenage victims was not pursued.

DC Oliver was the witness manager assigned to two victims and says when she learned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided not to call the girls as a witness, she felt ashamed of her part in a process that won the girls' trust only to betray it.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it focused its case on victims who would give the best evidence in court but DC Oliver has told the BBC more abusers "would be off the streets" if their girls' evidence had been used.

DC Oliver resigned from her job because she says did not get the reassurances she wanted about how vulnerable witnesses would be treated in the future.

One of the girls, who was just 14 years old when men started grooming her for sex, says she has never been told why she was dropped as a prosecution witness.

Some of the men she said had abused her were never arrested or charged and she says she still sees some of them walking around Rochdale.

The CPS apologised for failing to treat another victim as a credible witness in 2008.

The girl was judged to have "consented" to sex with the men and the authorities described it as a "lifestyle choice".

The CPS decided she would not make a credible witness.

In early March 2013, Keir Starmer, the head of the CPS in England and Wales, said he was unhappy with the way the police and prosecutors brought child abuse cases.

He announced there would be new guidelines and hundreds of cases that had failed to result in prosecutions would be re-examined.

The full report was featured on the File on 4 programme on BBC Radio 4 tonight (Tuesday 26 March at 8pm). If you missed it, it is repeated on Sunday 31 March at 5pm. You can also listen via the Radio 4 website or the File on 4 download.

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