This morning I spoke about the devastating revelations uncovered in the review of Operation Augusta last month. This review brought home the shocking truth of institutional failure to safeguard vulnerable children.
We must never again choose the easy path over the right path. pic.twitter.com/rNqfxUn3v8
— Afzal Khan MP (@Afzal4Gorton) February 5, 2020
Today in Parliament, I spoke about the devastating revelations uncovered in the review into Greater Manchester Police’s Operation Augusta. Published last month, this review brought home the shocking truth of institutional failures to safeguard vulnerable children in our city.
This damning report on the first phase of the independent review catalogued the failings of Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council and the Coroner’s office. It looked into the decision to drop the operation, even after the police identified a grooming gang in Manchester with potentially 97 persons of interest, who were known to have abused at least 57 children in the care of Manchester social services.
One of these children, was 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia who died in 2003 after being injected with heroin by an older man.
This report makes for extremely difficult reading, but I welcome its publication. It is only by facing up to past failures that we will be able to correct them and ensure they cannot happen again.
We have a moral duty to ensure every child is safeguarded from harm. It is horrifying that there were children who were sexually exploited and abused, and became victims of institutional failure when they were allowed to fall through the cracks in our safeguarding mechanisms.
Following the publication of this review I, along with Manchester’s other MPs, wrote to the Attorney General calling for a new inquest into the coroner’s verdict of Victoria Agoglia’s death. I was pleased to hear in today’s debate that the Attorney General is considering our request.
It is very easy to say never again. Never again will children be subjected to abuse or sexual exploitation. But sadly, this is not within our power to dictate. What we can do now is ensure that safeguarding measures for vulnerable children are absolutely watertight. Our institutions must be equipped with the knowledge and resources to effectively deal with safeguarding concerns if and when they arise.
No victim should ever go through what Victoria suffered in Manchester 15 years ago.
When it comes to tackling child sexual exploitation, we must never again choose the easy path over the right path.