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  1. Updates on Tuesday 03 March 2015

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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And it's good night from me

Linda Serck

BBC News, Berkshire

Well that's it from us here at BBC Local Live Oxfordshire towers.

Thanks for reading and be sure to visit us again from 08:00 on Wednesday.

Need a job?

Employers and support agencies from a wide range of sectors will be at a job fair in

Oxford Town Hall tomorrow.

Between 10:00 and 15:00, people seeking employment will have the chance to find out what employers and agencies from the leisure, health, and retail and hospitality industries, among others, have to offer.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the job fair, with 40 firms offering vacancies.

Big Issue seller in charity walk

Oxford Mail

A 70-year-old Big Issue seller is raising cash for homeless people

by taking part in a 12-mile night walk.

Lionel Hegarty, who lives in Summertown, is fundraising for the Big Issue Foundation by participating in the Big London Night Walk on Friday.

Freezing temperatures tonight

Holly Green

BBC Weather

Tonight further showers are possible and with hail, but there will be a good deal of dry weather and the winds will ease allowing a frost to form.

Holly Greeeeeeeen

Temperatures overnight will fall to freezing.

Check the forecast near you.

Mother-of-five murder trial

BBC South Today

A court has heard how a man paid a "petty crook" £1,500 to murder mother-of-five Pennie Davis.

Mrs Davis, 47, was stabbed to death in the New Forest in Hampshire as she tended her horses in September last year.

Pennie Davis
Police handout

Justin Robertson has been accused of killing Mrs Davies to silence her.

BBC South Today's Home Affairs correspondent Emma Vardy will have more on this story at

18:30 on BBC One.

Three charged with drugs offences

Linda Serck

BBC News, Berkshire

Now to bring you some other stories from across Oxfordshire.

Police have charged three men with a number of drugs offences after they were caught near Nettlebed.

The men, aged between 19 and 22, are accused of possessing ketamine and cannabis after a car driven "erratically" was pulled over by police on the A4130 in August.

They will appear at Oxford Magistrates' Court on 31 March.

'Men have lost Islamic values'

Inter-faith leader Imam Monawar Hussain said: "When I was brought up my parents always taught me that you look at another girl like your own sister.

"Those guys [the perpetrators] are doing drugs and have lost those values. We have failed to inculcate those values in them.

"To what extent are these men Muslim? They don't pray, they go against any Islamic teachings."

Six girls reported missing '500 times'

The Serious Case Review highlighted the majority of the girls were investigated for offences ranging from acquisitive crime, drugs offences to damage and violence - including some against parents.

Four were known to the Youth Offending Service.

The scale of missing episodes was vast: From 2005-10 the six girls were reported missing around 500 times, with around half the episodes being from council care.

The evidence was of very limited escalation to top decision makers, so no directors/chief officers or governing bodies were aware.

No 'politically incorrect' concerns during investigation

The Serious Case Review stated the perpetrators have been mainly from an Asian heritage, with some from Africa or south east European countries, and with a mainly Muslim culture.

No one was aware of evidence of "any holding back due to ethnicity" or "going easy to avoid offending cultural sensitivities or seeming politically incorrect".

'Safeguarding children' training plan for mosques

Imam Monawar Hussain who set up the

Oxford Muslim Pupils' Empowerment Programme (OMPEP), told the BBC there are plans to train staff at Oxford mosques to look out for signs of child abuse.

He said a safeguarding children document was also in the process of being signed off to distribute to the mosques.

Central Oxford Mosque
Central Oxford Mosque

"Everyone has a duty to look out for symptoms of child abuse," he said.

"We know there are Muslim and Asian victims of crime. Our focus is totally on children".

He said if there were any Muslim or Asian victims who are too scared to come forward, they have a Muslim social worker on hand who is contactable via the

Oxford Foundation website.

'More work to do'

The BBC pointed out to Mr Cameron that the Oxford case review says no one person can be held to account. When asked for his opinion on that, the PM said: "We need to look carefully at the report out today but it's not true no-one's been held to account.

"There's been a court case and some of the perpetrators were sentenced and that's the most important sort of accountability of all.

"What needs to happen now is that lessons need to be learned. There's some evidence in Oxford that has happened but I'm sure there's more work to do."

'Help for whistleblowers'

Asked if he and other politicians had been "wilfully ignoring" the problem of child sex exploitation, Mr Cameron answered: "No, we have taken action because we've put in place tougher sentences, we've put in help for the victims, we've taken all sorts of steps but what's come out of Rotherham and Rochdale and Oxford has been so horrific that it has demonstrated that more needs to be done.

"Obviously it's the responsibility of those councils, police forces and social services departments but government needs to bring everyone together and make sure the lessons are being learned and any legal changes that are necessary are passed.

"So out of today comes help for whistleblowers, help for victims, changes to the law to make sure that wilful neglect is made a proper offence."

'Not walk on by'

Prime Minister David Cameron has given his reaction

to the serious case review, saying: "The most important thing, apart from all the policy changes and the legal changes, is this is a big change in culture.

"We need to say loudly and clearly abuse of children under the age of 16 is wrong. It's not consent, it's not normal relations, it's wrong and we have to be intolerant of it and not walk on by as happened in too many cases in the past."

'Organised crime on a massive scale'

Jim Leivers, Oxfordshire County Council's director for children, education and families, said: "If we knew then what we know now about the grooming process, this would have been stopped much sooner.

"Before Operation Bullfinch people didn't believe something this horrible could happen.

"We are under no illusions about child sexual exploitation now. This was organised crime on a massive scale that we had not seen before.

"Our whole approach has now changed - children are believed, we can spot the signs of grooming and sexual exploitation and the Kingfisher team embodies that huge change."

Council staff "not inquisitive enough"

Former Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell also told the BBC "people at the grassroots" did not push the issue of child sex abuse gangs and "weren't inquisitive enough".

He said: "It feels like there was a sense that this was just too difficult a problem because many of the girls wouldn't co-operate and there wasn't an evidence base there.

He added a number of changes the way local government is run may have "slowed down reporting upwards".

Children suffered abuse on 'industrial scale'

Children in the UK

have suffered sexual abuse on an "industrial scale" with authorities failing to tackle the problem, David Cameron has said.

Outlining plans to tackle child sexual exploitation, the PM accused people and organisations of "walking on by".

Teachers, councillors and social workers in England and Wales who fail to protect children could face up to five years in jail under the proposals.

And police will now prioritise sexual exploitation as a "national threat". It comes as the serious case review found

as many as 373 children may have been targeted for sex by gangs of men in Oxfordshire in the last 16 years.

'We must not label men as Muslims'

A Muslim founder of an Oxford group promoting inter-faith peace has condemned the child abuse crimes but says it is "too simple" to see the perpetrators as Muslims and the victims as white.

Monawar Hussain
Oxford Foudnation

Imam Monawar Hussain from

The Oxford Foundation said: "The actions (of the men) are totally against what Islam might teach.

"To use the label "Muslim", to what extent can we do that? To what extent are these men Muslim? They don't pray, they go against any Islamic teachings."

"I think it's insulting for Muslims in that light."

Oxford councillors 'should resign'

Labour Bassetlaw MP John Mann, a campaigner on child abuse, called for the elected leaders of Oxfordshire County Council to resign.

Ms Morgan said it was a matter for the authority to consider.

Mr Mann said: "I called for the immediate removal and resignation of the Labour leadership of Rotherham Council. Will you join with me in calling for resignations of the political leadership of Oxfordshire Council?"

Ms Morgan replied: "I think that is a matter for Oxfordshire County Council, for the leaders to consider and for the elected members."

Labour call for inquiry

In the Commons, the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has been highlighting the "

serious case review" undertaken in the county.

Andrew Smith
Andrew smith

But the Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt says that's not good enough.

Labour is calling for a independent inquiry to ensure the safety of children in Oxfordshire in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: "Does she (Ms Morgan) agree me that the victims, the 370 other children identified at risk, their families and the public horrified that these sickening crimes were allowed to continue for so many years, are owed answers to crucial questions which this serious case review could not address?

How was the police response viewed?

As Thames Valley Police confirm no staff have faced disciplinary action over continued child abuse in Oxford, what did the victims tell the serious case review about their dealings with officers?

  • There was a "professional tolerance" of police who were aware of young adults sleeping with men.
  • One girl told the inquiry police made "snide comments" about what was going on.
  • Another girl said she turned up at a police station in the middle of the night covered in blood but was "dismissed as being naughty".
  • One girl said a police officer found her drunk with men, she said she was OK and the officer left them alone. She was abused that night.
  • After a complaint was made by one of the girls, a man was arrested for trafficking then later released. He trafficked her again shortly afterwards.
  • All girls had had some contact with Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council's children's services during the abuse.
  • From 2005-10, the six girls interviewed were reported missing about 500 times, with half the episodes being from council care.

The scale of the abuse was eventually discovered by more junior staff working nearer the coal face, including a drugs worker for the city council, a social worker, and a detective inspector, who were working on their own initiative.

Thames Valley Police

'At risk' children let down

A doctor standing as a parliamentary candidate in Oxfordshire has said that as a GP she has "been faced with situations" where she thinks "children are at risk and families clearly need support".

Dr Helen Salisbury, a National Health Action Party candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, said in her experience "social services resources are so stretched that those affected do not meet the threshold for help".

She added: "Troubled young people who need to access mental health services also face an unacceptable delay and are especially vulnerable."

The key findings of the report

Lauren Potts

BBC News

Police and social services made "many errors" and failed to stop the sexual abuse of young girls in Oxfordshire, a serious case review has found.

BBC News Online outlines the

key findings in the Oxford child abuse report.

Call for 'predatory behaviour awareness' classes

A Conservative MP wants children to be taught about "predatory behaviours" in sex education classes in light of the Serious Case Review findings.

Graham Stuart

In a Commons speech, Education Select Committee chairman Graham Stuart said: "My committee agrees that it's about having excellent sex and relationships education in schools, precisely to give the resilience to young people.

"Talk about consent in a meaningful way, as one witness put it, tell them about age gaps and predatory behaviours so they start to recognise that."

Report from child abuse expert in June

In the letter to Maggie Blyth, MPs Edward Timpson, Lynne Featherstone and Dr Dan Poulter call on the Local Safeguarding Children Board to lead a "specific piece of work into the impact of the multi-agency approach to tackling child sexual exploitation".

Sophie Humphreys has been appointed to work with the board on this. The report is expected by the end of June 2015.

Ms Humphreys headed the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children's Board and child protection service for Hackney. She has also led serious case reviews into child abuse.

Full reaction to report

BBC Radio Oxford

We'll keep you up to date with all the

developments to come out of today's report.
You can listen live here.

David Prever will have a full reaction on Drivetime from 16:00, including an interview with Keith Mitchell, who was head of Oxfordshire County Council during the period covered by the Serious Case Review.

'Root out child sexual exploitation'

It continues: "We must remember that it was through the courage and bravery of these young survivors of horrific abuse, speaking out and acting as witnesses in court, that the perpetrators of this wicked crime are behind bars. We hope that this has made the Oxford area a safer place."

"As faith and community leaders in Oxford, we renew our commitment to work in partnership with the police, the local authorities and all partner agencies to root out child sexual exploitation from our society."

Faith leaders condemn "abhorrent and wicked" crime


Oxford Council of Faiths released a joint statement following the Serious Case Review findings.

"We want to make it absolutely clear that child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent and wicked crime. It is contrary to the faith and teachings of all our religions.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those young people, who have suffered through the crimes of others, and also with their families and carers, as they provide vital support to help the survivors rebuild their lives."

What's next for TVP and council chiefs?

Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton (left) is due to leave the force at the end of March, to become

chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council.

Police chief and council chief

The chief executive of the county council Joanna Simons (right) has resisted calls to resign but may be made

redundant this summer after proposals were voted through to axe the £250,000-per-year post, as part of savings.

Victim helping police

Chief Constable Sara Thornton of Thames Valley Police said: "We continue to work with one of the six victims from Operation Bullfinch to deliver training to frontline officers.

"She talks about her experiences with the police in order for us to learn from mistakes made prior to 2011.

"Since the 2013 trial at the Old Bailey, we have successfully charged 47 offenders in connection with 201 child sexual exploitation offences and will continue to do so.

How vulnerable victims suffered

The serious case review highlighted the domestic violence, family instability, sexual abuse and neglect already suffered by some of the "vulnerable" victims.

Most, but not all, of the children and parents concerned had a "predisposition to difficulties or challenges in childcare and growing up", the report said.

In a section titled "The nature of the families", said to be "very hard" to write without risking being "misleading or unfair", the report said describing this aspect is "not blaming the victims or their families".

It said that, in some senses, the fact some of the children may have been "troublesome" and/or experienced abuse before made it worse as it added to their ordeal "in a most horrible way".

'We are not a Rotherham'

Mr Mitchell added: "We are not a Rotherham and I will not have that suggestion made.

"We are a good council and we have put in place the measures that are necessary to stamp this evil out."

Council "failed badly", admits former leader

Former Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell admitted he had not understood the scale of the problem and said they had "failed badly".

Keith Mitchell

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "I can't believe that by 2012 I wasn't being briefed that there was a problem.

"Not sure I ever really understood the scale and I certainly didn't understand what a huge problem this was in Oxfordshire and, it seems, across the country."

Police 'cultural shift'

Det Supt Andrew Murray, head of major crime at Thames Valley Police, said there had since been a "cultural shift" in operations.

He said individual investigations did not match up the scale of abuse so failed to spot the patterns.

"We have apologised directly to those children who had the courage to give evidence… but an apology's not enough unless you listen to what they say and you implement those lessons.

"We are charging disproportionally more men of British-Pakistani heritage and of Black-African heritage. What we would call for is continued independent academic research to look at our statistics, and give us some explanations and reasons, but it's not something we should duck, it's not something we should hide."

BreakingFifty of the 370 victims were boys

Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed that "around 50 of the 370 children for whom there is strong evidence of CSE (child sexual exploitation) are boys".

A council spokesman said: "It is particularly difficult for boys to come forward and disclose exploitation.

"The specialist Kingfisher Team has received training to be able to identify and support boys. It is encouraging that we are seeing an increasing number being worked with and protected."

'Frontline workers failed'

Ms Morgan added: "The serious case review published today by Oxfordshire's safeguarding children's board is an indictment of the failure of frontline workers to protect extremely vulnerable young people over a number of years.

"Reading the details of what happened to them has been truly sickening. The serious case review makes clear that numerous opportunities to intervene to protect these girls were missed as police and social workers failed to look beyond what they saw as troubled teenagers to the frightened child within."

Young people 'utterly let down by system'

In the Commons, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said at the heart of the issue were the young people who "have been utterly let down by the system and whose lives have been blighted".

She said: "I think it's important that we think about all of the victims and their families and I am pleased to announce or to confirm that part of today's summit and the announcements thereof will be a £7m fund in order to support those who have been victims, but clearly there is much more that we will all need to be doing."

The purpose of this serious case review, she added, was to understand what went wrong and why and to ensure that "we learn the lessons for the future".

She concluded: "Actually it's not just lessons learned - we want action. It was very clear that those who came across this information, some of them not just in Oxfordshire, in other authorities too, did not act on that information. That is simply unacceptable."

Chief exec 'must step down now'

Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England, pictured below, is a fierce campaigner against trafficking.

She said: "It is now clear there have been failures both within the social services and the police, by the very people who should have been protecting these vulnerable young girls and those responsible should look to their consciences to make the right move now.

"Rather than waiting until the summer, Oxfordshire County Council's chief executive Joanna Simons must step down now - she must take responsibility for these endemic failings.

"The most important thing to remember is the truly horrendous experiences these girls have been through."

Catherine Bearder

'Girl One' training officers

The victim who was known as Girl One during the trial at the Old Bailey is the one now training officers at Thames Valley Police.

She said: "I feel young people are finally being seen as victims and not simply nuisances who make bad life choices.

"I had a newly promoted sergeant apologise to me for all the young people they felt they had let down in the past and that was very touching.

"I feel that Thames Valley Police has failed me so terribly in the past. However, they have apologised for this and not made excuses about it."

Victim helping train police

A victim of the

gang convicted as part of Operation Bullfinch is now involved in the training of police officers in child sexual exploitation.