An independent review to provide assurance that Greater Manchester has the right culture and best possible systems in place to protect children from sexual exploitation (CSE) will begin this week.
It has been commissioned by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham in his role as Police and Crime Commissioner, in response to public concern about issues raised in recent broadcasts.
It will be led by nationally recognised independent experts and will report back to the Mayor in spring 2018. The findings of the report will be published.
The review will:
- Provide a detailed timeline of events, actions and decisions taken in previous reviews and reports. This will include a review of the decision to close down Operation Augusta, a police investigation in to CSE in 2005
- Analyse statements made in recent broadcasts about CSE in Greater Manchester. It will also examine the recommendations in all published inquiries and reviews completed following the 2012 convictions to highlight any gaps and risks which may remain, including an assessment of whether these suggest that CSE is not being adequately addressed in Greater Manchester
- Assess the effectiveness of policies and processes now in place, under the Project Phoenix partnership arrangements in Greater Manchester set up in 2013, to enable members of the public, police officers and others working with potential victims to highlight concerns; to assess the procedures which outline how concerns should be dealt with, identifying good practice and areas for improvement across all partners
- Provide recommendations which help guide the future direction of the GM response to CSE including any changes that would prevent victimisation and enhance services provided to victims
The Mayor said: "Sexual exploitation and abuse of children is abhorrent. I want a culture of zero tolerance towards any form of exploitation and abuse, where we constantly challenge ourselves to improve how we identify those at risk, give them a voice, investigate all reports and prosecute those responsible.
“I know that there have already been reviews and investigations in the past and significant work has been done by partners here in the last few years to make our response to CSE more coordinated, consistent and safe. But there has been renewed public concern following the content of recent broadcasts. I want to be absolutely certain that everything possible has been done to protect children, and create the right culture to prevent any repeat. I then want to be able to give that reassurance to the people of Greater Manchester.”
The independent assurance team will report directly to Baroness Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
The Deputy Mayor said: “This review is important as it is being carried out on behalf of the people of Greater Manchester, who rightly expect our children to be properly protected from harm and abuse. We want to ensure not only that current practice is the best it can be but also that we can respond effectively to any emerging new risks in the future.”
The team will be led by Malcolm Newsam CBE, who will be supported by Gary Ridgway.
Malcolm Newsam is an experienced child care expert with extensive experience of providing diagnostics, interventions and improvement support to a range of councils across the country. In October 2014, the Secretary of State for Education appointed him as the Commissioner for Children’s Social Care in Rotherham and in February 2015, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government confirmed him as one of a team of five Commissioners with executive powers over the Council where he remained until May 2016. In September 2016 the Secretary of State for Education appointed him as the Commissioner for Children's Services in Sandwell Council. He was awarded a CBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to children's social care.
Gary Ridgway was previously a Detective Superintendent in Cambridgeshire Police and Head of Public Protection. He has pioneered proactive victim led CSE investigations and led Operation Erle which resulted in the successful conviction of ten offenders. He now works as an independent consultant supporting the National Crime Agency, Councils and Police Forces on CSE.
The Deputy Mayor has also invited Joanne Roney, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and lead GMCA Chief Executive for Children, Jim Taylor, Chief Executive of Salford City Council and a former Director of Children’s Services and Debbie Ford, Assistant Chief Constable, GMP to join her in providing governance and oversight of the exercise.
The Deputy Mayor added: “I am pleased that two of our Council Chief Executives and ACC Ford are supporting the review as it demonstrates to the public that our agencies are working together at the highest level to stand up for our children and young people.”