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Council response to the BBC’s Three Girls drama

19 May 2017

Exploitation is never the victim's fault

Steve Rumbelow, the chief executive of Rochdale Borough Council, who joined the organisation in 2014, said: "There has been a fundamental change in attitudes from the top to the bottom of the town hall.

"I can genuinely say in Rochdale today, and every day, what happened to those girls, and the hurt caused to those girls, is in our minds, because that is the best way we can ensure we will not let victims down again.

"The fundamental change we have made is the treatment that young people get from staff. If a young person comes to us today saying they have been abused they will be taken seriously.

"We can never allow ourselves to be blasé. It's really important we keep moving forward. These abhorrent people are out there now, trying to figure out new ways to abuse children. We can never lose sight of that."

Gail Hopper, the director children's services at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Child sexual abuse and exploitation affects every area of the country in many forms. In Rochdale all agencies accepted their part in letting down children and young people and agreed to take action to ensure that no similar failures happened again. We can demonstrate that has happened.

"We have worked hard to raise awareness across organisations to train practitioners, put the right systems and support in place to ensure that more offenders are caught, children are safeguarded and people from all walks of life better understand how to recognise, prevent and deal with abuse.

"Our multi-agency team, Sunrise, along with other specialist teams in Greater Manchester Police (GMP), have helped to bring offenders from historic and current cases to justice, resulting in more than 200 years of jail sentences being handed down since 2012. Rochdale is now seen as an area that others can learn from and we regularly share our knowledge and experience with professionals from other parts of the country.

"Greater Manchester's It's Not Okay campaign has helped to develop and improve quality working across the region by setting consistent standards, measuring performance, communicating messages and building on innovation that is widely shared.

"We remain resolute as a partnership in Rochdale to work together to share information, expertise and best practice in tackling child sexual exploitation, as well as safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

"Everyone should stay alert to the signs that young people in any area can be exploited. We encourage those with even the smallest piece of information or concern to share it with police or their local child sexual exploitation team."

If anyone has been affected by the issues raised in the BBC drama or has any information to share, they should contact the Sunrise team on 0161 856 1734 or sunrise.rochdale@gmp.police.uk

You can also visit It's not okay to find out more information, including services available to residents.

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