27/09/2012 11:41 BST

Abused Rochdale Girls 'Could Sue Social Services' Over Failures

A solicitor for some of the girls who were abused in Rochdale said it was "very likely" they would sue the authorities for failing to protect them.

Richard Scorer told ITV Daybreak that Thursday's report was "very, very damning", and highlighted "a whole catalogue of failings, mainly by Rochdale social services".

He said: "I think based on the evidence in this report it is very likely that we will be going forward with legal action.

"It is fairly unusual for social services to be sued. It does happen but it is fairly unusual.

"Most of the cases we have seen in the past have tended to involve younger children so this case is fairly novel."

"But I think it is right that where social services have failed in this way that they are held properly to account."

child in care

"What they did to me was evil, they ripped away my dignity, my self-esteem," one of the victims told the court

It has only been possible to sue social services for the last ten or 15 years, Scorer told the Manchester Evening News.

He added: “This will not be about multi-million pound pay-outs, it will be about giving these girls the resources to get their lives back on the track after missing out because of the abuse they suffered.”

rochdale county

Richard Scorer said that usually social services were sued in cases involving much younger children, for example baby P.

Mr Scorer's comments follow a report by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) which revealed that vulnerable girls, some as young as ten, were being sexually abused. They had been written off by those in authority who believed the girls were "making their own choices".

The review was ordered after nine Asian men were jailed for grooming young white girls for sex. The first victim, who was 15 when the abuse began, told the police what had been happening to her in August 2008.

sex ring splash

The men were sentenced to 77 years in total

She specifically spoke of her abuse at the hands of two members of the gang who would later be jailed four years.

Her complaint was not taken seriously and she carried on being abused by the gang until December 2008 when she fell pregnant and moved away.

When asked if the abused girls had been able to come to terms with what happened to them, Mr Scorer said: "They are deeply traumatised and distressed by these events, which have lasted over many years.

"But they want to have the opportunity to rebuild their lives, the means, the wherewithal to do that, and that of course is part of the reason for bringing this case.

"What they also want to see is some cultural change in social services and hopefully the report is the first stage of that, but they want to press home that point and the legal action is part of achieving that."

He added: "I think there was a view in social services that somehow these girls were making their own choices about this.

"The reality is that they were trapped in this situation. They were victims of violence and threats of violence, they were trapped in the situation, they couldn't escape from it and they needed the help and support of social services and the police to do that.

"Of course eventually that came, but it came many years too late."


Children in care are becoming victims because they are vulnerable and social services are not protecting them, the report showed

MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, said the failure of authorities to protect the children, meant the men "must have thought 'we can get away with raping girls for as long as we want'."

He said the investigation "confirms this culture within Rochdale council, as case files show social workers believed young girls who were raped were 'making their own choices' and 'engaging in consensual sexual activity'.

"What this report shows is that young girls' cries for help were systematically ignored and I'm in no doubt that the poor response by council services would have emboldened the criminal to make them think they could carry on abusing with impunity."

He added: "They knew the girls had been to the police and social services and because nothing happened they must have thought 'we can get away with raping girls for as long as we want'. This report only looks at one case and clearly shows a culture of neglect.

"The more thorough Serious Case Review I am sure will reveal an even worse picture."