Police Watchdog Claims It Can’t Find Out Why Cops Dropped Investigation Into Muslim Grooming Gangs
The official police watchdog has claimed, after two years of investigation, that is has been unable to find out why Greater Manchester Police (GMP) dropped an inquiry into Muslim grooming gangs that identified almost 100 suspects.
The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), which is supposed to invigilate law enforcement in England and Wales, launched an investigation into three Mancunian officers following the publication of a grooming gangs inquiry commissioned by city mayor Andy Burnham which — like other inquiries before it — found that council officials, social workers, and police officers had failed the mostly white victims of mostly Muslim, South Asian heritage grooming gang rapists, in part due to politically correct fears around the issue.
However, the watchdog has now discontinued its investigations into the trio, referred to them by GMP after the Burnham-ordered inquiry, and claimed it has been “unable to determine” why a police inquiry into grooming gangs, Operation Augusta, was shut down despite having identified 57 victims and 97 potential suspects.
“Despite significant efforts, we were unable to determine who took the final decision to close Operation Augusta in July 2005, nor the rationale for doing so,” the IOPC said of the inquiry, which was launched in 2004 after 15-year-old rape gang victim Victoria Agoglia, who reported being sexually abused and injected with heroin to the authorities but was not helped, died of an overdose.
Steve Noonan, Director of Major Investigations at the IOPC, said that his organisation had “gathered and reviewed a significant amount of evidence, which helped us understand some of the actions taken” but that, ultimately, they were “not able to locate evidence showing who took the decision to close Operation Augusta and, more importantly, why.”
The IOPC claimed that challenges they faced included “the passage of time; a lack of available records of meetings and decisions taken at that time; and the fact some former GMP-employed police witnesses were either unable or unwilling to engage with our investigation.”
While Members of Parliament (MPs) could conceivably launch their own inquiry into the scandal and command these “GMP-employed witnesses” to appear before them on pain of being found in Contempt of Parliament, the IOPC made no such suggestions — and MPs themselves seldom tackle the issue of grooming gangs, preferring to leave it to local government and local newspapers.
Director Noonan did say that the IOPC had “identified several areas of potential learning for GMP to consider” in its official statement on its investigation being dropped, but a downgrade from the standard ‘lessons have been learned’ line following grooming gangs scandals to ‘lessons could be learned’ is likely to prove cold comfort to victims.