Oxfordshire: Serious Case Review Into Child Sexual Exploitation

Hundreds of children were at risk of sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire over 15 years, a report has revealed

A serious case review has found that 373 young people may have suffered grooming and abuse or were at risk of becoming victims between 1999 and 2014.

Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police are facing criticism in the report over a paedophile ring.

Seven members of the gang, five of whom were jailed for life, were convicted following a trial in 2013 of a catalogue of offences against vulnerable underage girls in Oxford including rape, trafficking and organising prostitution.

The shocking details of the trial prompted campaigners to call for answers over how the abuse went on for so long, despite some of the victims reporting their plight to police and social services.

And the judge in the case, Judge Peter Rook, said ``police and social services missed tell-tale signs'' about the abuse that was taking place.

In light of today's report, Lib Dem MEP for the South East Catherine Bearder has called for the leader of Oxfordshire County Council - Joanna simons - to resign.

Ms. Bearder said: "[You have to know] what's happening in your council. Clearly, that wasn't happening.

"There were too many parts of the council that were failing and that's the job of the boss, and she's failed."

Last year an inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham found that around 1,400 children were victims of sex exploitation between 1997 and 2013. It followed similar scandals in Rochdale and Bristol.

Retired police detective Simon Morton, who headed the investigation that led to the 2013 trial of the Oxford cases, said victims had been failed.

He said: "The girls were let down but I don't think anything was deliberate. The authorities did the normal things but it didn't work.

"In some aspects, calls for help were ignored.''

He added: "I don't think any of the agencies knew what to do.''

Of the serious case review, he said: "There is no hiding, there is no explanation for the victims. And the review has identified many areas that the authorities were weak in.''

Meanwhile, public workers who fail to protect children from sexual abuse will face jail under new government plans.

They'll be set out by the Prime Minister later. You can read more about it here.