25/11/2012 19:07 GMT | Updated 25/11/2012 19:08 GMT

Child Sex Ring: Rochdale Council Staff Investigated Over Failure To Protect Youngsters

Rochdale council staff who failed to protect youngsters from a child sex ring have been identified and could be sacked once an internal investigation is completed.

It is understood that Rochdale Council has identified around 12 workers who are under investigation after a damning review criticised "deficiencies" in the way children's social care responded to the victims' needs.

The review was published last month and came four months after nine men were convicted of the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of girls in Heywood and Rochdale.


A newspaper advertising board outside a corner shop in the Lancashire town of Rochdale after nine men were arrested for child sexual exploitation

Rochdale Council said that any of the workers who have since left the local authority could be referred to the social workers' regulatory body which has the power to have them struck off.

Current staff could face action, ranging from extra training to dismissal, once the council review is completed early in the new year.

Linda Fisher, director of corporate services at Rochdale Borough Council, 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.

"Where suspension is appropriate, it will take place. Where appropriate, former employees will be referred to the Health and Care Professions Council, the professional regulatory body for social workers.

"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 Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board (RBSCB) review said the "deficiencies" in the way children's social care responded to the victims' needs were caused by "patchy" training of frontline staff.

The 29-page report into child sexual exploitation also said social workers, police and prosecutors "missed opportunities" to stop the child exploitation ring from abusing young girls.

The picture which emerged from the RBSCB report is one of vulnerable young girls, some as young as 10, being targeted for sexual abuse, being written off by those in authority who said they believed the girls were "making their own choices" and "engaging in consensual sexual activity".

In reality, girls were being raped and often beaten.

The trial of the nine men resulted in a national debate over the alleged role of gangs of largely Asian men in grooming white girls.

The judge who sentenced the men said they treated their victims "as though they were worthless and beyond any respect".

The nine received jail sentences of between four and 19 years in May for offences which happened in and around Rochdale in 2008 and 2009.

The five girls, aged between 13 and 15, were given alcohol, food and money in return for sex but there were times when violence was used.

Police said the victims were from "chaotic", "council estate" backgrounds and as many as 50 girls could have been victims of the gang.

A chance to stop the gang was missed in 2008 and both the police and Crown Prosecution Service were forced to apologise for their failings.

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is yet to be published and a full serious case review is due for publication next year.