A ROCHDALE cop who fought to expose the grooming rings today slammed the police force for failing to tackle the abuse.
Maggie Oliver appeared on Lorraine this morning ahead of a new documentary delving deeper into the horrors experienced by teenagers snared in the paedophile rings.
Maggie is a former detective constable in Greater Manchester Police who resigned claiming hundreds of cases of alleged abuse were mishandled or ignored.
Today she said she believes class divide and fears of being accused of racism caused police to change their response to the investigation.
She said: “It still chokes me up. There are some things on the TV that I just cannot watch but I have done my very best to get this message out into the public arena.
“For me this isn’t just a problem for GMP and Rochdale, for me this comes from the top and the documentary takes the issue of the grooming back to 2003 and Operation Augusta that was an identical job to Operation Span but it was dropped and we had I think 97 offenders on our database and GMP dropped that job.”
She worked on a small team assigned to Operation Augusta which looked at allegations about the grooming of white girls in the north west of England by Pakistani men in 2004.
It found 26 teenage girls were thought to have had underage sex and a list of 208 potential suspects was drawn up.
When Oliver returned to work following a family bereavement she found the inquiry had been abandoned and she says it was not looked into again until 2008.
When asked what she thought GMP were “scared of” she said: “Being accused of being racist perhaps, causing riots. I know that Operation Augusta was shelved or buried when the London bombing went off.
“Until that time we had a full investigation, there was not another entry entered on to that system after the London bombings.”
She added: “All those victims that have been abused in that intervening period and even to this day I draw it to a comparison to the Grenfell Tower, for now we don’t know how many victims but probably well in excess of 100 – heads have rolled very quickly.
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“We are 15 years on now and there is not one senior police officer that has been held accountable – most of them have retired with big pensions.
“I think it’s gone way beyond the racial debate, I see it as a class debate also.
“It’s ‘them and us’ these girls had no voice, just like the people that they stuck in Grenfell Tower. They are not living in big fancy apartments in the West End of London so those in positions of authority they have got an attitude and an arrogance that they can do what they like.
“It upsets me, it breaks my heart.”
Watch the trailer for the BBC’s The Betrayed Girls, a documentary uncovering the Rochdale abuse scandal
Of the people accused of the crimes she said: “It shouldn’t matter where anybody’s from, a rapist is a rapist.”
“What puzzles me is at what point in the life of police officer, even a chief constable starts off a a police officer, you know a bobby, we all swear to do the same thing.
“At what point in that climb up the slippery pole do they lose sight of why they joined and what is right and what is wrong, and what has happened is wrong and nobody has been brought to account.”
The documentary airs at 8.30 on BBC One this evening.
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