COFFEY HOLE

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There’s a glaring hole in Manchester sex abuse report

The report into sexual exploitation of children by the Labour MP Ann Coffey contains a glaring hole – the role of social workers

Greater Manchester Police said the suspects were held in a series of raids

Advance publicity for the report on the sexual exploitation of children in Greater Manchester suggested that it might expose another scandal as great as Rotherham. Photo: Alamy

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Advance publicity for that report on the sexual exploitation of children in Greater Manchester suggested that it might expose another scandal as great as Rotherham. Between January and September this year, it revealed, Manchester police had compiled 9,789 reports on “missing children”, of which 4,520 concerned “children looked after by the local authority”. But when we saw the report, by Ann Coffey, the Labour MP, it proved to be strangely thin. Certainly there were more harrowing accounts of teenage girls describing how they had been appallingly abused, and how the police had ignored their pleas for protection. But one soon became aware of a glaring hole in Ms Coffey’s account.
Nothing should have rung louder alarm bells than the fact that nearly half these police reports referred to children in council care. As in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere, this looked like another massive failure of our “child protection” system – and of the social workers repeatedly revealed to have betrayed children entrusted to their care by the courts. But the report hardly touches on the social workers’ culpability. While I am sure it is irrelevant, it is nevertheless interesting to note that before becoming an MP, Ann Coffey was a council social worker, ending up with a job in Greater Manchester.
In the years I have been investigating how far our “child protection” system has strayed from its ideals, I have found few things more shocking than the extent to which children seized by social workers from their parents can often suffer far worse emotional and physical abuse in “care” than anything alleged as the reason for removing them. This is the darkest secret of all in how grievously our “child protection” system has gone off the rails. And, as this report confirms, it is a secret no one is more anxious to keep than those who operate that system, led by the social workers themselves.

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