Updated: Saturday, 7th December 2019 @ 1:02pm

Rochdale child sex ring: Crown Prosecution Service apologises to teenage sex victim for 'not taking her seriously'

Rochdale child sex ring: Crown Prosecution Service apologises to teenage sex victim for 'not taking her seriously'

By Dean Wilkins

A victim of the Rochdale sex ring scandal is being apologised to by the Crown Prosecution Service and police for their failure to bring the case to trial sooner.

The young girl was 15 when she reported the monstrous crimes to the police in August 2008 and in particular the abuse she received from the hands of Kabeer Hassan, 59.

The victim’s abuse was not taken seriously and the gang carried on their attacks on her until she fell pregnant in December 2008 and moved away.

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said: "In relation to that victim I can understand her concerns. I do more than that, I regret those concerns and I would apologise to her personally.

"I recognise the lawyer who dealt with the decision back in 2008 formed a view about whether a jury would believe her. I take a different view."

In July 2009 a CPS lawyer decided not to charge the two men because he thought a jury would not find her ‘credible’ despite police finding three separate samples of Hassan’s DNA in her underwear.

The police also failed to appeal against this decision and girls continued to be abused by the gang until more allegations came to light in 2010.

The botched inquiry is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Mr Afzal said the decision not to proceed occurred before his arrival in the region, however after taking up his post he reviewed the case and decided to overturn the ‘wrong’ as he believed the victim was ‘entirely credible’.

He said: "Had these two individuals been charged back in 2009 it may well have been that she would not have been passed around as the evidence suggests that she has been. I recognise that. I understand that.

"It's not something that I am extremely proud about. The point is that as soon as I had the opportunity to change that decision, I did."

The lawyer who made the error was taken off rape and sexual offence cases.

Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said the police should have done more for the victim in 2008.

He said: "I can say she didn't get the service she deserved. She was vulnerable, she needed help. We didn't give her the help that she needed and I apologise for that. We could have done better.

“In 2012, we are now in a different position and we understand the problem better than we did."

He urged all victims of sexual abuse to be confident in reporting it to the police, saying that he guaranteed they would be ‘treated seriously’.

The case was referred to the social services in Rochdale after the girl reported the rapes however she was not taken into care and remained living with the family of a girl who was recruiting young girls for the gang.

She was left with the recruiter and was exposed to further abuse until she escaped from the gang.

Cheryl Eastwood, executive director for children, schools and families at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "We, along with other agencies working with the young women involved in the recent court case are now aware, with the benefit of hindsight, recent local learning and national safeguarding initiatives, that we missed some opportunities to offer more support and assistance to them in 2008 and 2009.

"We deeply regret that and are confident that we are now more able to intervene earlier and more robustly when cases of concern are brought to our attention.

"We applaud the bravery of these young women in bringing these cases to court, and are pleased that staff from a variety of agencies have been able to support them."

She added: "The education of all staff has now improved to such an extent that they now see child sexual exploitation as part of a wider pattern of behaviour and offending.

"Therefore, reports of abuse are no longer taken in isolation and treated as stand-alone crimes. This new approach includes much earlier involvement with key partners such as children's services and the police."