#minorsextrafficking | Rochdale grooming gang boss worked as ‘welfare officer’ at Oldham Council


The notorious ringleader of a grooming gang portrayed in the BBC’s Three Girls series was employed as a welfare rights officer by Oldham Council, a major report has revealed. 

Shabir Ahmed, who led the sexual abuse ring in Rochdale and was nicknamed ‘Daddy’, was seconded to the Oldham Pakistani Community Centre during his time at the local authority.

Ahmed, identified only as ‘Offender A’ in the report, is now serving a 22-year jail sentence.

He was a sex predator and former taxi driver, and was described as the ‘ringleader’ of the nine-strong group found guilty of exploiting girls as young as 13 at Tasty Bites and another takeaway in Heywood from 2007.

Despite multiple concerns being raised about him and his arrest for the sexual assault of children, police failed to tell his employers.

‘If this had happened, it may have potentially avoided the tragic abuse of other children…’ the report states, citing ‘serious multiple failures’ by both GMP and the local authority.

Welfare rights officers are responsible for helping people with what benefits and allowances they are able to get. 

The report looked into the alleged grooming of children in council homes, shisha bars and by taxi drivers in the town and concluded there was no evidence of a cover up or ‘widespread’ child sex abuse in those settings.  

Report also details how Shabir Ahmed, the ring-leader of a notorious grooming gang in Rochdale, was employed by Oldham Council as a welfare rights officer

Three Girls, a three-part drama on BBC One. The harrowing real-life drama followed the stories of three teenaged girls who were abused at the hands of a Rochdale grooming gang

Three Girls, a three-part drama on BBC One. The harrowing real-life drama followed the stories of three teenaged girls who were abused at the hands of a Rochdale grooming gang

But the leader of Oldham Council apologised to victims of child sexual exploitation in the town – after the review said some had not been protected from grooming.

Cllr Amanda Chadderton said she would be writing to all the victims in the report and would be happy to meet them personally.

It looked into the alleged grooming of children in council homes, shisha bars and by taxi drivers in the town and concluded there was no evidence of a cover up or ‘widespread’ child sex abuse in those settings.

Despite ‘legitimate concerns’ of police and the council in Oldham of the far right capitalising on the issue of grooming by predominantly Pakistani men, the authorities in the town, which suffered race riots in 2001, did not shy away from tackling the issue, the report said.

But the authorities did fail some children, notably citing the case of one girl identified only as ‘Sophie’, who was abused aged just 12, after ‘significant opportunities missed’ to protect her.

She went to Oldham police station to report being raped by an Asian man in October 2006.

She was told to come back when she was ‘not drunk’ and was instead taken from the police station in a car and she was then raped in the vehicle, then taken to a house and raped multiple times by five different men.

Both Oldham Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) should apologise for their failings, the report concluded, after being ‘more concerned about covering up their failures’ than acknowledging they failed to take action 

The report on Oldham, pictured, follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester

The report on Oldham, pictured, follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester

Cllr Amanda Chadderton at the press conference on the Oldham CSE report saying sorry

Cllr Amanda Chadderton at the press conference on the Oldham CSE report saying sorry

Cllr Chadderton said of Sophie: ‘I will never pretend to be able to understand fully what she went through, but it’s clear that the council and the police failed in our duty of care towards her – both as a child, and the subsequent responses to her as an adult. For that, I am truly sorry.

‘It is clear that at the time, the police and the local authority did not understand enough about this horrendous crime and how best to support and protect its victims.

‘Much has changed since then. We’ve learned from similar reports and reviews from around the country. From changes to national guidelines and from best practice – and the way we deal with victims of this terrible abuse is now completely different.’

The 202-page report is authored by Malcolm Newsam, a renowned child care expert, and Gary Ridgeway, a former detective superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police.

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective who turned whistleblower (second left) in April

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective who turned whistleblower (second left) in April

The report on Oldham follows an earlier damning report, centred on grooming gangs in Manchester, which said victims had been failed by police and local authorities in the city.

Maggie Oliver, the former GMP detective who turned whistleblower, said: ‘Another day, yet another report about the failures of a police force to protect the most vulnerable in our society, even when there is irrefutable evidence to prosecute offenders and safeguard children.

‘This report yet again clearly evidences catastrophic failings by the force and their repeated attempts to cover up and hide these failings both from the victims and from the public they serve, and that is extremely worrying.’

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: ‘This report continues the process of shining a spotlight on past failures in Greater Manchester.

‘There were serious failings and victims were let down, particularly Sophie.

‘Whilst there was no evidence of a cover-up, we must not flinch from acknowledging shortcomings.’

A criminal investigation has been reopened in Manchester and police watchdogs called in to investigate former senior GMP officers following the grooming report on the city published in January 2020. Both probes are still ongoing.

Mr Burnham, chief constable of GMP Stephen Watson and the report authors will hold a press conference later today on publication of the report.

The Rochdale abuse scandal: What happened?

Shabir Ahmed, the ringleader of the Rochdale child sex grooming gang

Shabir Ahmed, the ringleader of the Rochdale child sex grooming gang

The Rochdale scandal was finally exposed in 2012, when people learned that for years, authorities had been suppressing knowledge of abuse rings of primarily Pakistani men preying on primarily white teenage girls.

Young women were being raped by multiple men on a nightly basis, after being plied with gifts and alcohol. 

Nine men were sentenced in 2012, and another nine in 2016. In 2012, the men were given sentences ranging from four to 19 years. 

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard that girls would be given alcohol before being passed around for sex at two takeaways, the Balti House and Tasty Bites, in the Heywood area.  

The police were accused by then MP Simon Danczuk of ignoring the cases because they were brought by working class girls. 

Reports have estimated the number of girls abused over the course of the cover-up at 1,400, but some have said it could be as many as 2,000.  

Top row left to right: Abdul Rauf, Hamid Safi, Mohammed Sajid and Abdul Aziz; Bottom row left to right: Abdul Qayyum, Adil Khan, Mohammed Amin and Kabeer Hassan

Top row left to right: Abdul Rauf, Hamid Safi, Mohammed Sajid and Abdul Aziz; Bottom row left to right: Abdul Qayyum, Adil Khan, Mohammed Amin and Kabeer Hassan

The men sentenced in 2012 included Mohammed Amin who was jailed for five years for sexual assaults and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. 

Abdul Qayyum, known as ‘Tiger’ to his victims, was jailed for five years for conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.  

Adil Khan was convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. He was jailed for eight years. 

Mohammed Sajid, who abused girls in a flat in the city, was jailed for 12 years after he was convicted of conspiracy, sexual activity with a child, rape and trafficking.

Abdul Rauf was jailed for six years after being convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. The court heard he had sex with one girl in his taxi 20 to 30 times.

Abdul Aziz was convicted of trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child and jailed for nine years.

The youngest of the group, Kabeer Hassan, was 25 when the abuse happened. He was jailed for nine years for rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.

Hamid Safi was jailed for four years for trafficking and conspiracy but was cleared of rape charges. 

The ringleader Shabir Ahmed, was jailed for 22 years, for rape, sexual assault, trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.  

Zoe and Amber, in episode one of Three Girls. The show divided viewers and some turned off, finding it too hard to watch

Zoe and Amber, in episode one of Three Girls. The show divided viewers and some turned off, finding it too hard to watch

Allegations had been brought to police on multiple occasions between 2008 and 2010, and after reviews following the court case, Greater Manchester Police apologised in 2015.

In total, 13 officers were investigated and seven were given misconduct notices, but none faced further proceedings after the report was issued. 

After the report, Assistant Chief Constable, Dawn Copley said: ‘I want to say we openly acknowledge that mistakes were made and victims were let down.

‘For our part in that we apologise to the victims and we give them our assurance that lessons have been learned, changes have been made and we are determined to use this to continue making improvements.’

In April last year, 10 men were jailed for a total of more than 125 years for sexual offences against eight girls and women in Rochdale.

They included Afraz Ahmed, a former bus driver who picked up two of his young victims from school and offered them free tickets.

He was originally questioned in 2006 but a decision was made not to prosecute him after he claimed the girls’ complaints against him were racially motivated.

Balti House, one of the Rochdale kebab houses where abuse took place, which is now under new management

Balti House, one of the Rochdale kebab houses where abuse took place, which is now under new management

Former bus driver Ahmed, of Rochdale, was found guilty of various sexual offences, including rape, conspiracy to rape and sexual activity with a child, in relation to five underage victims. He was jailed for 25 years.

Also sent to prison were Choudry Hussein for 19 years in his absence for rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to rape. 

Rehan Ali, of Blackley, was imprisoned for seven years and Kutab Miah, of Rochdale, for nine years after both were found guilty of rape and sexual activity with a child.

Abid Khan, of Liverpool, was jailed for six-and-a-half years and Mohammed Zahid, of Rochdale, for five years after both were found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Mohammed Dauood, of Burnley, was jailed for 16 years after he was convicted of offences in relation to two victims including rape, sexual activity with a child and sexual assault.

David Law, of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, was jailed for 11 years after he was convicted of conspiracy to rape. 

A tenth defendant, Mahfuz Rahman, of HMP Garth, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of sexual activity with a child. He was jailed for five-and-a-half years last September.

A then-40-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for 23 years after he was convicted of rape and attempting to abduct a child in relation to three victims. He will serve an additional eight years on extended licence when he is released. 

THE SEXUAL HEALTH WORKER WHO EXPOSED A SCANDAL 

Sara Rowbotham was concerned about the drama, as she feared it wouldn't do justice to what happened in Rochdale

Sara Rowbotham was concerned about the drama, as she feared it wouldn’t do justice to what happened in Rochdale

Social worker Sara wrote in the Guardian that she was initially concerned about the BBC’s interest in dramatising the scandal, and feared they could not do it justice.

She wrote: ‘They have managed to powerfully portray a world of desperately vulnerable teenagers who are hidden from view and don’t have a voice. 

‘I cried when I first saw Three Girls. The girls’ brave struggle to bring these criminals to justice is told with sensitivity and insight. 

‘It’s ultimately a story about childhood that ought to spark a national debate about the protections every child should be entitled to.’

The single sexual health worker has also been revealed to be appearing on Channel 4’s First Dates, as she tries to move on from a ‘difficult, dark time’.  



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