Such crimes would be distressing enough in isolation. What is worse is that the authorities could have done something about them so much earlier.
Many of the details of the sexual grooming case that concluded with the conviction of seven men at the Old Bailey yesterday were too violent and too distressing to be reported upon. But the outline is sufficient. Over the course of eight long years, girls as young as 11 were drugged, raped and sold for sex at a string of properties across Oxford, suffering appallingly sadistic abuse at the hands of a gang of adults by whom they were specifically targeted for exploitation.
Such crimes would be distressing enough in isolation. What is worse is that the authorities could have done something about them so much earlier, but did not. All but one of the girls were living in children’s homes. Yet despite repeated disappearances – and even, in the case of one child, it being the general consensus among staff that she was being groomed – nothing was done. Social workers, too, have any number of questions to answer about so egregious a failure in their duty of care.
The police acquitted themselves no better. The first hint of trouble was as long ago as 2006, when one of the girls reported that she had been held against her will, made to snort cocaine and then left unconscious. Another, a few months later, told officers she had been raped. Yet despite a series of complaints and contacts over the years that followed, the pieces were not put together and the abuse continued.