Rochdale Council staff face action over sex grooming failures

Council staff who failed to protect Rochdale youngsters from grooming by a sex ring face disciplinary action and could be struck off.

Rochdale Council confirmed 12 workers were being investigated and that one had already been suspended after a review criticised "staff deficiencies".

Nine men were convicted of running a child sex ring in the town in May.

Any of the 12 workers that have since left the council could be referred to the social workers' regulatory body.

The Health and Care Professions Council has the power to ban them from working as social workers.

Current staff could face action, ranging from extra training to dismissal.

'Missed opportunities'

Linda Fisher, the council's director of corporate services, said: "Our internal investigation into the handling of child sexual exploitation cases is progressing and will identify what action the council, as an employer needs to take.

"As a result, a number of staff are subject to internal disciplinary procedures."

In their review, Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board (RSCB) found that vulnerable young girls were being targeted for sexual abuse and written off by those in authority who believed the girls were "making their own choices" and "engaging in consensual sexual activity".

In reality, girls were being raped and often beaten.

The Home Affairs Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into grooming following claims abuse went unchecked in Rochdale from 2004.

Steve Garner, the former head of children's social care who left after the publication of the RSCB report, gave evidence to the committee and apologised for "missed opportunities to provide greater protection".

Ms Fisher added: "We are absolutely determined to build on the changes that have already been put in place to make young people more safe and secure and won't hesitate to take whatever action is appropriate where unacceptable practice is uncovered in accordance with the council's procedures."

The council's own investigation is due to report back shortly, and a review by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ongoing.

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