In 2017 Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham commissioned a report on the police response to the abuse of young girls in the early 2000s. Mayor Burnham was inspired by a BBC special called The Betrayed Girls (see below) which focused, in part, on the death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia. Victoria had died of a drug overdose in 2003 after complaining that she was being abused and drugged by a group of Pakistani men. The report, which was released today, found that Manchester police launched an investigation into the situation. The investigation identified dozens of other victims and nearly 100 suspects but funding for the effort was pulled and almost no one involved was ever punished.
After Victoria’s death, [Greater Manchester Police] launched Operation Augusta, which subsequently identified at least 57 children “as potential victims” and up to 97 “persons of interest” involved in the crimes against them.
The report found the operation was ultimately “prematurely closed down… before it could complete its work”, a decision that was driven by a desire to “remove the resources”, rather than by having “a sound understanding that all lines of inquiry had been successfully completed or exhausted”.
“The authorities knew that many [children] were being subjected to the most profound abuse and exploitation but did not protect them from the perpetrators,” it said.
The report’s authors, childcare expert Malcolm Newsam and former Det Supt Gary Ridgeway, considered a “sample” of cases from Operation Augusta and in each, found that they “cannot offer any assurance” that alleged offences were “appropriately addressed by either GMP or MCC”.
They also found eight men identified in the investigation had gone on to commit serious sexual offences, including rapes of girls aged both under and over 16, after the operation was ended and that one suspect vehicle uncovered in the initial investigation was linked to a GMP officer, who was later dismissed from the force.
So why didn’t the police and social workers do more to stop this? Because the crimes were considered racially sensitive. Local Labour MP Ann Cryer did try to do something after a group of mothers came to beg her help. She went first to a local Pakistani community leader but her concerns were brushed off. She then tried to bring attention to the story by going directly to the media.
Andrew Malcolm, a reporter for the London Times, saw the press release written by Cryer but ultimately decided not to write about the story because he didn’t want to provide fodder for the British National Party, which was gaining support at the time. “To my shame I allowed my liberal fear about giving succor and credence to the British National Party to act as a break on actually doing my job,” Malcolm told the BBC.
Cryer, the Labour MP, said that some members of her party offered support but others began whispering that perhaps she was a racist.
Here’s the BBC documentary which inspired the report. This is about 90 minutes long but worth a look if you have time.
Update: Here’s a Channel 4 story from today about the Manchester report. If you stick around to the end of this you might recognize Cathy Newman as the host who did such a spectacularly bad job interviewing Jordan Peterson nearly two years ago. She does a bit better here, though I think she lets Nazir Afsal wiggle out the question about whether or not political correctness played a role here.