Rochdale grooming victims 'did not want sex'
Social workers and police officers must realise that victims of grooming gangs are not consenting to sex, a senior social worker has said.
Janet Foulds, former chair of the British Association of Social Workers, was responding to a report on the Rochdale grooming case which found that some social workers thought the victims were mature enough to make their own decisions about sex.
Ms Foulds said: "Part of the grooming process... is that children, young people, appear to be going along with what's happening - terrified often, and under the control of the perpetrators.
"But the way that the children and young people are groomed may give people the impression that it is consensual, but it absolutely isn't."
The chief executive of Rochdale Borough council, Jim Taylor, said he accepted the findings of the Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board.
He said: "I need to be confident improvements have gone far enough, that we really are doing everything we can do to ensure young people are protected - and also, let's not forget that abusers need to be brought to justice quickly."
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said the report should have included input from the victims.
He said: "It doesn't explain why the social workers, why social services had a culture of blaming the victims for the abuse that they received."
Jon Brown, of the NSPCC, said: "These vulnerable girls were groomed and exploited and should have been treated as victims from the start."
He praised Rochdale Council's "openness" in publishing the report, and said "huge strides" had been made to stop the failings happening again.