You are here: Home / News Reports / The chances missed NINE years ago to stop Huddersfield grooming gang

The chances missed NINE years ago to stop Huddersfield grooming gang

As detailed in my book Easy Meat. I have PROVEN Rotherham staff knew about grooming gangs there in 1975; Bradford staff knew in the early 1990s; Birmingham staff knew in the late 1980s. In 2004 the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire worked with the self-styled "anti-fascists" to conceal the problem. In 2005 the Chief Constable closed down the unit investigating these crimes. These agencies gave the gangs the green-light to carry on raping schoolgirls.

Grooming victims were let down because authorities thought they were just 'rebelling' against their parents and weren't considered 'poor enough' to need help, according to a group who raised the alarm over abuse in the town back in 2009.

ExaminerLive first reported on the abuse nine years ago, when parents told charity PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation - then known as CROP) they were concerned their daughters were meeting older men and being sexually exploited.

Families complained of social workers dropping them because they were financially comfortable and so didn't need support, as well as police allegedly making one mother collect her daughter from a house where she was being abused by paedophiles.

PACE reported that girls were being exploited to Barry Sheerman, who spoke at length in Parliament in 2009 , calling for the government to “take the issue more seriously”.

But the charity’s CEO says the child protection system remains “unfit for purpose”, and that it needs to be completely reevaluated in order to protect young people.

West Yorkshire Police have since told ExaminerLive that the force accepts “opportunities were missed”.

In a speech to the Home Office’s then Under-Secretary of State Alan Campbell, Mr Sheerman said in January 2009: “Two or three of my constituents have faced the traumatic experience of having a daughter as young as twelve taken into a way of life that leads to sexual manipulation and in some cases prostitution”.

Mr Sheerman detailed the timeline of victims being groomed, describing how men would befriend girls in the town centre and outside schools, picking them up in “flashy cars”, before embarking on a sexual relationship and “passing the girl on to an older generation or a wider circle of men".

Throughout 2018, 20 men have been convicted and jailed over the abuse following ten months of trials. The collective sentence for all 20 was 257 years in jail.

However, PACE say that since concerns were raised in 2009, social workers for Kirklees Council and officers at West Yorkshire Police continuously “failed to recognise the signs”, dismissing concerns simply as teenage girls being rebellious rather than as “victims of organised crime”.

Gill Gibbons, current CEO of PACE, said: “I was aware when I first joined the charity in 2008 [of problems in Huddersfield].

“The system isn’t fit for purpose. That was the case with the victims in this story, and that is still the case now.”

Gill claimed that families were visited by social workers who saw they were “financially comfortable” and therefore ‘did not meet the threshold that meant they required support’.

She said: “The problem in Huddersfield was just as it was in the rest of the country; these girls were considered to be from a bad background and that they were ‘naughty’ and ‘rebellious’, that they’d chosen this ‘lifestyle’ maybe because they were not loved at home and were seeking affection from somewhere else.

“Families didn’t meet the threshold of what social workers considered as a family that needed help. There was one occasion where a social worker visited a Huddersfield family concerned their daughter was being groomed, and the worker commented on what a ‘nice kitchen’ they had and on their loft conversion.

“The parents reported this back to us after they were told by social services they didn’t need their help. The family were seen to have a nice home and were living comfortably so didn’t need the support of social services. If the families are considered to be looking after their child and managing, then they are left.

“This was not an unusual comment, we’ve had reports of these types of comments being made by authorities across the country.”

The claims were echoed by MP Barry Sheerman, who told ExaminerLive , “people thought it was girls from tough backgrounds and in care”, when in fact a lot of the families who contacted him with concerns were “middle-class”.

There are also claims that families were let down by West Yorkshire Police , who Gill said did not take families’ fears seriously when girls would be reported missing.

“If girls went missing from home they were just considered to be rebellious teenagers who didn’t want to be at home”, Gill said. “[It was] therefore not a matter for police. There was a lack of understanding, record keeping and proper investigation.

“One mum has told us how she had to go and get her child from one of these parties in Huddersfield after police told her to go herself. The mother knew where she was because she’d seen her going off with multiple men. She walked into the house and had to physically collect her daughter from the floor where she was being raped by multiple men.”

She added how another mother called police 28 times to report her daughter missing. Although when this was later checked, West Yorkshire Police could find no records of any such reports.

“Police were helpful at times”, Gill added. “They did come round and speak to [the mother] and told her her daughter was being groomed, but there wasn’t a sufficient method of recording these instances of girls going missing, even were they were on the radar.

“Signs were being missed.”

West Yorkshire Police told ExaminerLive that the force accepted opportunities to bring the men to justice sooner were “missed”, but stated that this was down to a “lack of understanding” of grooming rather than a disregard for its victims.

Responding to the claims, a spokesperson said: “West Yorkshire Police accepts that opportunities have been missed in the past to protect victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), but has taken this learning and used it to develop strong partnerships and better working practices with other agencies.

“Improved understanding of the subject also now means that these signs can be spotted and acted upon at a very early stage.”

Police added that, due to the nature of the men’s crimes, victims do not always come forward.

“Sadly the extent and cunning of those minded to exploit children is so controlling that the victims often do not appreciate they are being exploited or abused. There were many occasions when not only felt they were in relationships but believed those relationships were far more special than others would appreciate.

“These victims were manipulated by the perpetrators and unfortunately the signs and symptoms appreciated today were not understood, recognised or appreciated during the years these victims were abused."

“With knowledge held now and the victims providing the missing details not known 10+ years ago it is clear opportunities were missed and it is those opportunities that we now seek and develop to protect children from abuse.”

Police also said that “action was taken when these children were reported missing”, adding that “missed opportunities are possibly best described as signs and symptoms not being recognised or associated with CSE”.

Children’s services in Kirklees were described in an Ofsted report last year as “not improving quick enough”, and Steve Walker from Leeds City Council was drafted in as director.

Responding to claims by PACE, Mr Walker stated that ‘lessons had been learned’ and that Kirklees would be working with the charity, adding that council leader Shabir Pandor would be writing to the Home Secretary calling for a national review into what social services could learn from the abuse.

The council have also enlisted the help of an expert into children’s safeguarding, who will carry out an independent review of how its social services handled the cases.

Steve Walker said: “The recent trials into historical child sexual exploitation have highlighted issues in the way that children and young people were safeguarded at that time.

“For that reason Dr Mark Peel – the former Professor of Social Work at Leicester University, has been commissioned, through the Kirklees Safeguarding Children’s Board, to undertake a review of these non-recent cases to identify whether there are any lessons we can learn.

“The safety of our children and young people is our highest priority and we are always seeking to improve our response. Therefore, to ensure that practice in Kirklees and our response to Child Sexual Exploitation reflects best practice nationally, we have commissioned an independent review of our current policies and practices by external experts to identify whether there are opportunities to improve these further.

"Child Sexual Exploitation can have a devastating effect on young people and their families touched by it. I am pleased, therefore, that we have employed a worker from PACE who will work with us to ensure that families have the right support.”

“It is now clear following the cases in Rochdale, Rotherham, Newcastle and now Kirklees the risk that children and young people face from CSE is a national issue. For this reason the Leader of the Council is writing to the Home Secretary, following the debate at full council last week, to outline our plans, and call for a national review of the learning.”

ExaminerLive reached out to several current and former councillors who were in senior positions at Kirklees at the time of the abuse detailed in the recent trials.

Clr Kath Pinnock, who was council leader from 2000-2006, said: “I can hand on heart say nobody raised the the issue and I’m confident that if they had, we would have reacted in a way to bring these people to justice."

Clr Pinnock was involved in the setting up of Kirklees’ CSE Committee in 2010 in light of the grooming scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale, but said this never found any abuse on the scale of that investigated in Operation Tendersea.

She added: “We rely as councillors for some of this information to come from social services within Kirklees.

“We have got to do, as a council, everything we can to protect vulnerable children and that must be our priority.”

Outgoing Clr Robert Light, council leader between 2006 and 2009, and former councillor Mehboob Khan, leader from 2009 to 2014, both declined to comment on the issue while investigations remain ongoing.

Why Muslims Kill For Islam

My new book (co-authored with Tommy Robinson) was published at the end of July 2017.  The book went straight to No.1 on Amazon, and stayed there for 4 days (that is, until the entire print-run of 5000 copies ran out).

`The Koran, Decoded

The book is now back in stock and you can buy the book here: http://www.mohammeds-koran.com/store

Or you can read the 100s of five-star reviews the book received in its first few months on sale.

Contact Peter McLoughlin

Email pmclauth a t gmail . com


Considering that Twitter and Facebook have banned me, YouTube has removed entire channels, and Google deliberately promotes Islam in discussions of Islam and terrorism, it's only right to do my social networking on a site that really seems to stand by the concept of freedom of speech. You can find me at http://gab.ai/pmcl .