'Missed Chances' To Help Abuse victims

An independent review by a Derby body into the care of vulnerable girls preyed on and abused by a gang of men has said agencies "missed opportunities" to help them.

It was reported for the first time that a gang of men were convicted of a catalogue of offences after a series of three trials.

They befriended the girls - one as young as 12 - plied them with alcohol and took them to "parties" where they were abused.

Ringleaders Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, and Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, were convicted of charges including rape, sexual assault, and sexual activity with a child. They will be sentenced on January 7.

An undercover investigation by Derbyshire Police, dubbed Operation Retriever, saw 13 men  charged. Eleven stood trial for a string of charges - not all sexual - relating to the case which involved 26 victims.

Verdicts at Leicester Crown Court meant nine of the original 13 were found guilty, with convictions relating to 15 of the victims.

A Serious Case Review by the Derby Safeguarding Children Board into two of the victims who were in local authority care, which incorporated multi-agency reviews into 25 other girls involved, said there were "missed opportunities" by agencies to help.

It said although it could not be predicted the background of the two girls in care meant it was predictable they were at risk of abuse: a number of agencies were involved in helping the two girls, referred to as YP1 and YP2, but did not work together to build a comprehensive picture of them.

One was looked after by Derby City Council from April 2009 and the other from October 2008. But as their behaviour spiralled out of control staff did not recognise signs of abuse and dealt with them as "rebellious adolescents".

Report author Janet Galley said recommendations for improving understanding, practice, procedures and training had been put in place, including a new information sharing tool to help information from a range of agencies to be captured and collated in a way which could be quickly coded and analysed by police.

Evonne Williams, Derby City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We are so sorry these girls have suffered and that signs of abuse and early opportunities to act were missed.

“We have learned from this and acted swiftly to change the way we work.

“Our procedures and our communications with all the agencies involved have been improved."