Apologies To Oxford Sex Gang Victims

15 May 2013, 20:30 | Updated: 15 May 2013, 20:59

Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council have apologised to the 6 girls for failing to rescue them.

It's as seven members of a paedophile ring are facing long jail sentences for child sex trafficking.

The vulnerable schoolgirls were plucked from the streets and care homes to be drugged, raped and sold into prostitution.

The men were found guilty at the Old Bailey of a catalogue of offences including conspiracy to rape, child prostitution and trafficking over an eight year period. 

They were remanded in custody for sentencing on June 26. 

Some victims relived their ordeals during the four month trial, describing how they were groomed, beaten, betrayed and sold into prostitution around the country. 

One victim, Girl A, complained of her plight to police on two occasions but no one was charged. A care home manager refused to pay her taxi fare when she returned after absconding. 

The then 14-year-old was driven back to Oxford to be raped. The carer was later sacked and the privately-run home where girls were placed by Oxford County Council was closed down.

The girls had been put into care because their behaviour was out of control and for their own protection. 

Time after time, they disappeared from children's homes and were caught with older men by police, but the exploitation continued.

Joanna Simons, the council's chief executive, apologised to the girls. She said: "We are incredibly sorry we were not able to stop it any sooner. 

"We were up against a gang of devious criminals. The girls thought they were their friends. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the girls in giving evidence. They have been so brave. We are so sorry we weren't able to stop it before."

Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Mason said: "Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council social services deeply regret that this activity wasn't identified sooner and that we were too reliant on victims supporting criminal proceedings, and that they suffered a terrible ordeal.''

The gang was finally arrested after police and social services got together to form Operation Bullfinch. By speaking to complainants and looking at their histories, they realised they were dealing with an organised grooming gang.  

Police have arrested a further nine men from the Oxford area under Operation Bullfinch.