Oxfordshire County Council has today, Tuesday, apologised that a multi-agency child protection system failed to prevent horrific abuse of six girls in the region.
The apology comes in the wake of the publication of the independent Serious Case Review into Child Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board.
The serious case review followed a trial in 2013 in which seven men were imprisoned for a total of 95 years for the grooming, abuse, rape and prostitution of six girls in Oxford from 2005-2011.
Jim Leivers, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Children, Education and Families, said: “Like the whole community we are horrified at what happened in Oxford.
“We fully accept that we made many mistakes and missed opportunities to stop the abuse.
“After the trial, the council apologised to the girls for not stopping their abuse sooner, and I do so unreservedly again today.
“They suffered dreadfully at the hands of these violent men, and despite many attempts we failed to keep them safe while they were in our care.
“Since then we have been determined to make improvements and have worked hard to ensure that everything possible is done to make children safer in Oxfordshire.
“We are totally committed to tackling this abuse and the county council has already implemented all the recommendations for improvement, which the report acknowledges.
The report describes ‘concerted and vigorous action’ by all agencies to tackle child sexual exploitation.
“After the trial, the council apologised to the girls for not stopping their abuse sooner, and I do so unreservedly again today.”
It concludes: “Oxfordshire has made very significant progress from the time in 2011 it was finally realised there was a pattern of organised child sexual exploitation (CSE) and multiple victims”.
The Serious Case Review reveals that as well as the six victims – one of whom was just 11 when she was first abused – there have been 367 other Oxfordshire youngsters identified by the county council’s social services team as being abused or in danger of being groomed over a period of 15 years.
It also states that Thames Valley Police made “many errors” and could have acted sooner.
Speaking at a press conference the chair of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB), Maggie Blyth, said: “What happened to the victims is deeply disturbing.
“It is shocking that these children were subjected to such appalling sexual exploitation for so long.”