Lib Dem councillor: CSE report delay 'beggars belief'

Date published: 25 January 2022

An Oldham Liberal Democrat councillor has criticised the delay in the publication of a review into allegations of child sexual exploitation in Oldham

The report was delayed yet again last week by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, saying some victims felt they had 'not had the opportunity to say everything they want to say'

In a statement, Mr Burnham said: "It is vital that the team have time to consider how best to ensure their voices are properly heard. For this reason, I have agreed to a short delay in the publication of the report.

“While this will come as a disappointment to some, it is essential that everybody is able to have confidence in the final report."

Lib Dem Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani says he was shocked by the delay: "It was only weeks ago that I was responding to an entirely predictable delay in the report, when time had not been allowed for the legal process. To be in the same position again just weeks later beggars belief.”

A leaked passage from the report says Oldham Council and the police covered up 'serious failings' in the case of a 12-year-old rape victim.

The leaked report told how authorities 'turned a blind eye' as the girl was attacked by a number of men.
Cllr Al-Hamdani says the planning for the report was poor:  "This report has been two years in the making, and while I am not happy that it has taken this long, I accepted at the start that this was an independent investigation, and that they would follow where the evidence led, and take enough time to investigate it properly.

"However, why have we been given deadline after deadline that simply haven’t taken account of all the steps needed for it to be completed? Last time it was because time hadn’t been allowed for the legal process, this time because time hasn’t been allowed for responses from those in the report.

"Imagine if you were a survivor; one of the people who has been interviewed by the independent investigation team. How would you feel if you had been given a date, repeatedly, when the report was going to be released, and again, it wasn’t.
"One of the greatest issues facing survivors is the build-up of emotion caused by any time at which they might have to face talking or thinking about their experiences. Triggering that process, by giving a date that is then withdrawn, is careless and cruel."

Speaking to the Chronicle earlier this week, Leader of Oldham Council, Arooj Shah said the delay was "not ideal", however, the final report needed to be robust.

"I would have liked to have seen the report concluded, but I fully support Mayor Burnham's view that it has to be a robust and thorough investigation.

"Ultimately, victims are the most important thing in this, and if people need to come forward to contribute more, then we should put them first and foremost."

It's understood the review will now be published in mid-February.

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