Nearly 400 British girls as young as eleven are believed to have been sexually exploited by Muslim rape gangs in Oxfordshire over the past 15 years, according to a chilling new report. It charges local officials with repeatedly ignoring the abuse due to a "culture of denial."
The scale of the abuse in Oxfordshire, a county in southeast England, mirrors similarly shocking accounts of the sexual exploitation of white British girls by Muslim gangs in Bristol, Derby, Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford, and implies that the problem is not isolated, but endemic.
The 133-page Serious Case Review (SCR) was published on March 3, the same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron convened the so-called Downing Street Abuse Summit, during which he unveiled a raft of new measures aimed at bringing more offenders to justice.
The report — which reveals that there are "grounds for believing" that 373 girls have been sexually exploited by gangs in Oxfordshire since 2004 — focuses on the accounts of six girls and their contact with the authorities. The girls were the victims in the "Operation Bullfinch" trial, in which seven Muslims were found guilty, in May 2013, of trafficking and raping the girls between 2004 and 2012.
According to the SCR, between 2005 and 2010, the six girls were reported missing 500 times — half of those when they were in the care of official child protection agencies — but authorities never bothered to investigate.
In Section 2, the report includes extracts of the Prosecution's opening speech at the trial in order to "focus the mind" on the suffering endured by the girls. The men would "ply the girls with alcohol and introduce them to drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, 'crack' and sometimes heroin. The girls became addicted to certain of the drugs and felt unable to live without them. This made them even more dependent on the men."
"Sometimes the men would also exercise extreme physical and sexual violence on the girls and threaten them that should they ever seek to free themselves from the grasp of the group they and/or their families would suffer serious harm.
"The defendants took the girls to other places, usually hotels/guest houses or empty private dwellings, for other men to have sex with them, again often in groups and often in return for money which was paid to the men and not the girls.
"Most of the men engaged in the sexual abuse of the young girls did so over many years. Each was much older than any of the girls and of an age to know precisely what he was doing; the harm he was inflicting on the girls; the fact of their suffering and that their activity was illegal and in many instances depraved. In short, their conduct was intentional and persistent. Many of the sexual acts committed on the girls were extreme in their depravity. The girls were usually given so many drugs that they were barely aware of what was going on. Indeed, they say that it was the only way they could cope with what was going on.
"The sexual abuse included vaginal, anal and oral rape and also involved the use of a variety of objects such as knives, meat cleavers, baseball bats... sex toys.... It was often accompanied by humiliating and degrading conduct such as biting, scratching, acts of urinating, being... suffocated, tied up. They were also beaten and burnt. This sexual activity was often carried out by groups of men; sometimes it would go on for days on end.
"The places to which the girls were taken were often private houses and guest houses in Oxford. Some of the private houses appeared to be empty and used solely for the purposes of the abuse. The men who came to pay to have sex with the girls were not always from Oxford; many travelled from far afield, places such as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough. It seems they came specifically to sexually abuse young girl, often by appointment with the men in Oxford who had dominated the girls.
"Between acts of abuse sometimes stretching over a number of days, the Oxford men ensured girls were guarded so that they could not escape. In addition to being abused in various locations in Oxford, some of the girls were taken to other towns and cities such as London and Bournemouth for the same purpose."
Section 3 of the SCR shows how local authorities could have stopped the abuse as early as 2005, but failed to do so because they refused to take the girls' complaints seriously. The report includes dozens of comments the girls made during interviews, including:
"I turned up at the police station at 2/3am, blood all over me, soaked through my trousers to the crotch. They dismissed it as me being naughty, a nuisance."
"Why would a 13-year-old make it up?"
"The social worker just wanted to hear what [the worker] wanted to hear so there was no need to do anything...."
"The Police never asked me why — they just took me home."
"I thought if I told the Police what was really happening they would not believe me, and they would not arrest them and then... they did not do anything and that made me think that nothing could be done."
"I made a complaint about a man who trafficked me from a children's home. He was arrested, released and trafficked me again."
"Oxford and another council argued about me to try and avoid doing anything. It wasn't my fault I was abused."
"Social services washed their hands — 'it's your choice' I was told."
"A WPC [woman police constable] found me drunk with men. I said I was ok and she went away and left me with them. I was abused that night."
The SCR also shows that parents were exasperated at the lack of concern displayed by police and social workers, who often blamed the girls for the situation they were facing. Parental comments include:
"Police wouldn't pursue anyone unless they had a cast iron case."
"No one thought about us — what it would be like if it was their daughter."
"Police wouldn't tell us addresses so we could go and bring her home."
"She was a minor but we were told it wasn't our business."
"I tried to tell social services about the evidence — but they weren't interested. It was obvious it was something sexual."
"A big chunk of her life has been taken away — when she should have been at the youth club or skating or the school prom — all that went missing because of them: the perpetrators and the police/social services for not stopping it when they knew."
"It's in my mind all the time — what happened to my 'baby' and what I did because I didn't understand what was happening to me. They knew what was happening to her and didn't tell me."
"Why did they let it go on during the long investigation?"
"No one spoke to us about dealing with the people responsible."
"The police said she didn't appear in danger, they said she was happy to be there, and refused to tell me where she was."
"Giving her a cuddle and taking her to MacDonald's was the [social worker's] solution."
"One manager said [before the exploitation was understood] 'She's streetwise, and loves it.'"
"[After a theft was investigated where a girl was with older men] The issue for the police was the burglary, not a 13-year-old with older men."
"At interagency meetings attended no one kept any records/minutes, and there were never agendas."
"The Children's Home didn't tell me when she went missing."
"I despaired of ever getting an appropriate response that stood alongside us and didn't try to blame and shame us."
And yet the report holds no one responsible or accountable. It blames the failure to act on a "lack of knowledge" and "organizational failings." The report concludes:
"The Serious Case Review (SCR) has seen no evidence of willful professional neglect or misconduct by organizations, but there was at times a worrying lack of curiosity and follow through, and much work should have been considerably different and better. There is little evidence that the local understanding of child sexual exploitation (CSE), or how to tackle it once identified, was significantly different from many parts of the country.
"On the surface, many of the illustrations described in the report can seem like professional ineptitude, unconcern, or inaction. They become more understandable when put in the context of the knowledge and processes at the time, practical difficulties around evidence, and a professional mind-set which could not grasp that the victims' ability to say 'no' had been totally eroded.
"The overall problem was not grasping the nature of the abuse—the grooming, the pull from home, the erosion of consent, the inability to escape and the sheer horror of what the girls were going through—but of seeing it as something done more voluntarily. Something that the girls did as opposed to something done to them."
According to the Telegraph, local authorities across Britain are expending "considerable intellectual effort" into finding reasons not to conduct mandatory public investigations into child sexual abuse out of a fear of "negative publicity."
An investigation cited by the paper found more than 30 instances where local authorities refused to conduct a Serious Case Review, which is required by law whenever a child is seriously harmed as a result of abuse. When investigations were conducted, in many cases the reports failed to examine how "fear, overwork, timidity, willful blindness and over-optimism" had led social workers to make bad decisions.
Speaking at a summit on child exploitation on March 3, Prime Minister Cameron said British social workers are in need of "a massive dose of common sense." Reading a quote from the report, he said:
"One does not need training in child sexual exploitation to know that a 12-year-old sleeping with a 25-year-old is not right, or that you don't come home drunk, bruised, half-naked and bleeding from seeing your 'friends'."
"I think it's very important we take a step back and just recognize the horrific nature of what has happened in our country. Young girls — and they are young girls — being abused over and over again on an industrial scale, being raped, being passed from one bunch of perpetrators to another bunch of perpetrators. And all the while this has happened with too many organizations and too many people walking on by. And we have got to really resolve that this stops here, it doesn't happen again and we recognize abuse for what it is."
Under new plans announced at the summit, the government will seek to extend the crime of "willful neglect" that was recently introduced to protect the elderly in nursing homes to protect children from sexual predators. This would require teachers, social workers, police and elected officials to act on suspicions of child sexual abuse or face up to five years in prison. The new law would apply to all levels of the bureaucracy, from low- and mid-level employees to the most senior managers and directors.
Some observers are skeptical about the effectiveness of Cameron's plan. In an interview with Sky News, Conservative Party MP Tim Loughton, a former parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, had this to say about the Oxfordshire report:
"A 'worrying lack of curiosity' is a very charitable way of saying 'clear incompetence and neglect' that went on in various agencies within the children's services department, within the social services and within the police in Oxfordshire."
Loughton added that under the new law, "willful neglect" will be a high bar to prove. Prosecutors would need to show that authorities were "proactively obstructing people coming forward with allegations" and that there was "a conspiracy of cover-up or silence."
British commentator Simon Kent is equally pessimistic. He writes:
"It is a fact teachers, councilors, police, NHS [National Health Service] staff and social workers in England and Wales have categorically failed to protect young children from sexual predators for a generation.
"Systemic failures have been condoned with silence, serial bunglers rewarded with promotion and whistle blowers shunned. Why is anything going to change now, after the event(s)?
"It will be years before David Cameron's intentions are fully acted upon. All the while the abuse will continue, to the eternal shame of those who have the power but not the ideological or intestinal fortitude to stop it."
Kent concludes: "Too little, too late. That's just not good enough."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.