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Class prejudice in social services left rape victims ignored during Rochdale sex ring scandal, says MP

By Ben Ireland

The problems of class prejudice failed to protect some of the young girls who were subjected to sexual grooming and abuse in Rochdale, according to an MP.

Simon Danczuk MP told MM that social services in the area had treated some of the victims as ‘white trash’.

He condemned an ‘institutional blindness to abuse’ after several teenage girls were systematically abused by a group of Asian men in Rochdale – nine men were convicted more than 77 years.

“That culture existed in social services and because they are working class they were neglected and ignored,” Mr Danczuk said.

“The issue is a very complex jigsaw, and one of the pieces we shouldn’t overlook is about class.”

Mr Danczuk thinks the social services had a ‘warped view’ of some victims, accusing certain girls of crying wolf.

He added: “It’s a proven fact that social services believed those girls were making life choices, they thought they were acting as prostitutes.

“Social services thought it was ok for them to have underage sex, but wouldn’t help them when they needed it.”

Rochdale’s Crisis Intervention Team, part of the Pennine Care Trust, had been explicit in naming individual girls, but the social services are the only ones who have the power to take legal steps.

Mr Danczuk stressed the magnitude of the social services’ views.

He said: “I’m not talking about two to three cases, I’m talking 80, 100, even 200 to 300 over the years.

“If it had been their daughter coming forward, would they have ignored them then.

“Social services decided these girls were not credible witnesses, but why aren’t they?

“They don’t have the money to go shopping at the Trafford Centre or go to McDonald’s on Sandbrook Park. They are people who are brought up with little money, so they sometimes hang out on the streets because they have nowhere else to go.

“Maybe if they’d have had more articulate parents who could act on their behalf, they would have been listened to?”

Mr Danczuk was quick to add that not just Rochdale suffers from class prejudice in social services, using the recent Sir Jimmy Savile revelations as an example of how institutions have been acting ‘deliberately blind’.

In response to Mr Danczuk’s claims, Jim Taylor, Chief executive of Rochdale Council, admitted: “There was more that could, and should have been done to protect the victims when allegations first came to light.

“Unacceptable practice is being investigated and dealt with in line with our procedures.

“We are well aware of the issues the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board review raises and the way the council and its partners now approach the issue of child sexual exploitation has changed.”

The in-depth reports, which are examining exactly why opportunities were missed to prevent the abuse earlier on, are due to be released in December.

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