Statement from Cllr Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council:
“Allegations are being made on social media referring to safeguarding cases that were subject to a comprehensive multi-agency response involving the council and the police in 2013.
“Firstly, can I say that Oldham Council’s staff and members are resolutely committed to protecting and caring for our children and young people now just as they have been in the past.
“The council works with the police and other agencies to investigate, disrupt and prevent child sexual exploitation and pioneered the introduction of Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs that have been replicated around the country. It is abhorrent for anyone to suggest that anything has been swept under the carpet or ignored. Reported cases and intelligence in all cases were referred to police for investigation.
“Secondly, Oldham Council has actively lobbied for changes in the law where it was inadequate for tackling threats against our young people. Since then our work has disrupted criminal behaviour in this area and protected many young people.
“Thirdly, when the allegations were first made, I immediately asked the council to examine our partnership response to the events of 2013 and to update me on current processes and procedures.
“Following this I am satisfied that our safeguarding procedures are robust, and that we have and continue to do all we can to meet the safeguarding needs of the children through our partnership approach and that we do our best protect them from those that would harm them.
“However due to the nature of the comments, the council and police want to satisfy ourselves that we did everything we could to protect our children in the recent past and that we are adopting an approach of continuous improvement to our safeguarding procedures.
“The Council and the police have therefore commissioned an independent review of actions around the period of the allegations – looking at them through a 2019 lens.
“To be clear, this does not mean that I believe anyone was failed or anyone acted improperly. However, I believe we have a duty to test the strength of our safeguarding processes as part of our desire to continually improve the work that we do.
“The police have tried to engage with the person making the allegations – the police are the appropriate agency as he claims to have evidence – but unfortunately to date, he has failed to respond to their requests. I would urge him to make contact with the police immediately. It is vital if he has information that he shares this with the proper authorities, so it can be investigated.
“And by way of assurance to our residents, I can categorically say that Oldham Council and GMP will always investigate and respond to safeguarding concerns and I would urge anyone with evidence we are not aware of to get in touch immediately with the police and report it to them.