[News] Rochdale grooming ringleader worked as welfare officer | UK | News

A convicted grooming gang leader worked as a welfare officer for a council (Image: MEN)

An independent review said Shabir Ahmed, who led the sexual abuse ring in Rochdale, was seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre during his time working for the local authority. Despite multiple concerns being raised about him and his arrest for the sexual assault of children, police failed to tell his employers.

In the report, Mr Ahmed, referred to as ‘offender A’, was shown to have “worked for Oldham Council between 1998 and 2006”.

It said: “He was employed as a welfare rights officer in the welfare rights unit of the council seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community centre.

“In May 2012 he was found guilty of two rapes, aiding and abetting rape, sexual assault and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

“Offender A lived in Oldham and was a member of the Oldham Labour Party.”

Shabir Ahmed, who led the sexual abuse ring, worked for Oldham Council between 1998 and 2006

Shabir Ahmed, who led the sexual abuse ring, worked for Oldham Council between 1998 and 2006 (Image: GARY OAKLEY/ MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

The report continued: “At the end of Sept 2008, the Probation Service notified Oldham Council that offender A had been charged with sexual assault.

“No action was taken by Oldham Cl to undertake a safeguarding assessment of Off A following this information or to liaise with colleagues in GM Police.

“Furthermore, it was known by the police that offender A was a council employee and insufficient enquiries were made into whether his role gave him access to vulnerable adults and children.

“Throughout this period, legitimate concerns on the part of both the council and the police that high-profile convictions of predominantly Pakistani offenders across the country could be capitalised on by a far-right agenda and lead to the victimisation of the Pakistani community.”

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A report said police and local councils in Oldham failed to protect some children

A report said police and local councils in Oldham failed to protect some children (Image: GARY OAKLEY/ MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

In addition, the report concluded police and local councils in Oldham failed to protect some children from grooming and sexual exploitation.

The review found that “some children had been failed by the agencies that were meant to protect them because child protection procedures had not been properly followed”.

Commissioned in 2019 by Oldham Council, the report also found a “structural flaw” in the multi-agency system that was set up to tackle child sexual exploitation, leading to some perpetrators “not being apprehended earlier”.

However, the report said there was no evidence of a cover-up by the authorities.

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It found there were multiple missed opportunities to prevent abuse as far back as 2005

It found there were multiple missed opportunities to prevent abuse as far back as 2005 (Image: GARY OAKLEY/ MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS)

In a damning finding, the report found there were multiple missed opportunities to prevent abuse stretching back to 2005.

It criticised Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for a “less than candid” approach to MPs and said both agencies’ response to the victim’s concerns “feed a view” that they were “more concerned about covering up their failures than acknowledging the harm that had been done to a vulnerable young person”.

The council and GMP apologised for their failings and said their approaches to tackling child sexual exploitation had improved markedly in recent years.

However, both agencies faced strong criticism in the report for how they responded to concerns raised by a victim known as Sophie, who was raped repeatedly from the age of 12.

Shabir Ahmed was sentenced to 22 years in prison in June 2012

Shabir Ahmed was sentenced to 22 years in prison in June 2012 (Image: MEN)

Senior GMP and council officers played down their culpability when asked about Sophie’s case by the Commons home affairs committee, the report said.

Amanda Chadderton, the leader of Oldham council, said in a press conference that its response to Sophie’s complaints was “unacceptable” and the leadership of children’s services had since changed.

Stephen Watson, the chief constable of Greater Manchester police, accepted that there was a “misplaced tendency, at least in the minds of some, to put first the organisational reputation”.



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