Updated: Sunday, 5th July 2020 @ 5:57am

'It is time to break the cycle of failure': Mayor Andy Burnham pledges justice for child sex victims

'It is time to break the cycle of failure': Mayor Andy Burnham pledges justice for child sex victims

| By Emma Downey

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has issued a stark warning that he is determined to get justice for the victims of child sex abuse no matter how long it takes.

Following the publication of the first part of a review into Operation Augusta - which looked into how well the cases had been handled - Mr Burnham declared: “My message is clear: no issues of resources, race or passage of time should ever stand in the way of pursuing those who have abused children.”

He said he has put in place five steps to deal with the explosive report which include:

  • Greater Manchester Police (GMP) opening Operation Green Jacket – a major criminal investigation into cases that were part of Operation Augusta and into the sexual abuse of Victoria Agoglia.
  • GMP referring the issues raised within the report to the IOPC to consider whether disciplinary action is required.
  • The Attorney General has been requested to apply for a new inquest into Victoria’s death.
  • Part Two of the report will now proceed at pace into the sexual exploitation in Rochdale.
  • The final stage will look at current safeguarding practice across 10 boroughs with the aim or providing reassurance to the public that all past mistakes have been fully faced up to and that child protection is recognised as our highest priority.

He added lessons had not been learned from the tragic death of Victoria Agoglia who was injected with heroin by a 50-year-old man.

“This has happened too many times in too many places and it is time to break this cycle of failure. People who should have expected protection did not receive it. Nothing is more important than protecting children and the public.”

He said that the report had strengthened his resolve to do more for people in care and that there were bigger issues that needed picked up following review and it had been forwarded to the Integrated Operating Police Operating System (IOPS) to see if any disciplinary measures should be taken for those responsible.

Explaining that the children were “living the nightmare on a daily basis”, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire Beverley Hughes who chaired the review revealed that the number of victims would increase: “We know sexual abuse of children on an individual and an organised basis is going on. 

“I know that as the police are now talking to people who they do know were abused at that time, those young people are identifying other young people in care that the police didn’t know about and so yes, based on what the police are telling me at the moment I have no doubt that the number of victims will increase.”

However, one person not calling the review shocking was Victoria Myers – partner and head of abuse claims at Graham Coffey Solicitors and Co. Manchester.

“Right this second a child will be being abused. I’ve seen it all before.

“You’ve got failings in Rochdale, in Rotherham. I would put my house on it that this will not be the last report like this. It will be up and down the country.

“My feeling is that in every town there will have been a cover-up. We will never stop it but we can help people and we can do everything we can to try and decrease the numbers.”

“Until I did this job I had no idea of the magnitude of it. It’s kind of an epidemic almost. It’s horrific. Child abuse, unfortunately, has gone on since the beginning of time.”

Explaining how people seem to forget the long-standing after-effects that the victims are faced with, she added: “They have had their lives ruined. They end up with life-long problems. They struggle to hold down jobs turn to drugs, alcohol, struggle to form relationships.”

Victoria’s mindset has not been left unscathed either as the repercussions of her job have affected her trust in people.

“It has changed me a little bit in how I think about people. I don’t trust people as easily because there are people you put your trust in especially with victims of child abuse. They are always failed by figures of authority.

“It is getting better but we have to just keep chipping away at it and see what happens.”

Help and support is available from www.itsnotokay.co.uk or through an independent helpline: 0808 168 9024.