Rochdale grooming lessons 'not learnt'

Silhouette of a girl looking through a park fence The woman claims social workers said the 13-year-old girl was making "informed choices"

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A woman who raised concerns about a 13-year-old girl's safety has accused Rochdale social workers of failing to learn lessons over sex grooming.

Rochdale Council was criticised for missing opportunities to help victims of a child sex ring after nine of the ringleaders were jailed in May.

An independent review found staff who failed to act had said the girls were making "lifestyle choices".

The woman behind the latest claims said the same phrase was used again.

Council chief executive Jim Taylor said he was concerned by the claims and asked for the woman to contact the council in confidence so the matter could be fully investigated.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous but said she was involved in caring for children, claimed she raised concerns with social workers about the girl regularly going missing at the end of 2011 and early 2012.

Comments not 'appropriate'

She said: "The girl was constantly going missing and the reaction to that was that she was making informed choices.

"The issue I had is how can a child of that age make informed choices? I don't think those comments were appropriate."

"She did get drunk quite often and what she was doing when she was drunk, that's the question," she added.

"So every bullet point you have in grooming, exploitation, she ticked every one of those boxes."

After the damning review by the Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board (RSCB), the British Association of Social Workers warned that social workers and police officers must realise that victims of grooming gangs were not consenting to sex, although the way they were groomed may give the impression it was consensual.

One victim made a complaint in 2008, which was not taken seriously and the abuse continued, the RSCB report found.

The council said it had implemented more staff training since the scandal came to light.

Mr Taylor added: "An independent review is currently under way to evaluate whether improved procedures are effective enough."

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