Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said he was “personally disgusted” that children were abused in plain sight as the police responded to a damning report into its Operation Augusta.
An assurance review of Operation Augusta – which was launched in 2004 following the death of 14-year-old Victoria Agoglia – has established that most of the children they considered were failed by police and children’s services.
The authorities knew that many were being subjected to the most profound abuse and exploitation but did not protect them from the perpetrators.
In a statement issued following the release of the Operation Augusta report Mr Hopkins said: “On behalf of Greater Manchester I want to apologise to all of those vulnerable children who were let down in 2004.”
He admitted that Greater Manchester police “did not thoroughly investigate the abhorrent offences against them” but that the force were committed to doing all they could to ensure they receive the justice they were denied 15 years ago.
Mr Hopkins said: “We will continue to do all that we can to safeguard children within our community.”
He added that in September 2019 one man was arrested in connection with Victoria Agoglia’s death while another was interviewed under caution.
“Both men were released under investigation and our enquiries are ongoing.”
‘We should be focusing on the victims and trying to gain back their trust’
Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain assured the public that Operation Green Jacket – a new investigation was now underway following Operation Augusta – the police were committed to the job at hand and any perpetrators would be “robustly pursued.”
He said: “Victoria was let down by the authorities and it is being looked into. The investigation is in early stages as statements are still being taken.
“We have 56 live investigations across Greater Manchester – 344 victims are being supported and 317 suspects have been identified.
“As it stands, he said there were 53 potential victims from 2004/2005 including the victims in the report. 48 of which were in looked after care.”
When asked what the victims’ attitudes towards the police were 15 years’ down the line he said they are incredibly upset as they were let down by all agencies.
He also said that the victims were unaware that they were part of the review but they (the authorities) were regaining their trust.
On responding to if he knew why officers in 2004 refused to cooperate with Operation Augusta and whether an apology should be given to former detective constable and whistle-blower Maggie Oliver, Mr Hussain said it was “not a question he could answer and that our apology is to the victims.”
He added: “No-one buried the truth. We should be focusing on the victims.”
He admitted bringing the assailants to justice would be “much more difficult to obtain evidence in this day and age” but that he “anticipated charges will be brought.”
“What I can say is that we have identified other enquiries that would not have been available in those days and we have already engaged with crown court.”