Statement from Chief Constable Ian Hopkins in response to recent media reports on CSE Assurance Review
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I want to be clear in affirming my commitment to doing all we can to ensure that these victims receive the justice today that they were denied 15 years ago. This is an absolute priority for Greater Manchester Police and we are determined to pursue every line of enquiry available to us in order to prosecute those responsible for these crimes.
As has already been stated, we have referred Greater Manchester Police’s role in Operation Augusta to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to make their own assessment as to whether there are any criminal or misconduct matters by police officers which need to be investigated.
As I said yesterday, I am personally disgusted by the awful abuse that these children suffered. That is why I immediately commissioned a police review of Operation Augusta as soon as I was made aware of the early findings of the Independent Assurance Review.
There have been claims that Greater Manchester Police has tried to stop the review of Operation Augusta being published. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to these reports, we have cooperated fully with the review team and acted with transparency and integrity throughout. At no time has there been any effort from us to prevent the publication of the report and any suggestion that states otherwise is categorically untrue.
On 15 January 2018 I attended a meeting with Deputy Mayor Beverley Hughes and Malcolm Newsam, one of the independent reviewers, along with legal representatives. At this meeting I personally cut through the issues around sharing victims data with Malcolm Newsam to ensure there was no delay to the start of the review. As a result of the actions at this meeting, I signed on behalf of GMP the data sharing agreement.
By doing this, I set the standard and led the way for other agencies to support the review, which was acknowledged by the Deputy Mayor during yesterday’s press conference. Manchester City Council followed later in
2018 and Rochdale Borough Council in 2020.
On 12 April 2018, following the police review, the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council and I agreed independently of the Mayor’s review to set up a multi-agency review led by the Director of Children’s Services and an Assistant Chief Constable. The purpose of this review was to assess any risks that may exist from potential offenders from Operation Augusta, and importantly to assess what we may need to do to support any of the victims we knew about at that time.
On 10 May 2018, Operation Green Jacket was set up as a result of that review and the initial indication from the Independent Assurance Review that there were concerns in relation to the original Op Augusta investigation.
Operation Green Jacket has developed further as a result of Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council meticulously reviewing historic files and speaking to victims and perpetrators. This work has uncovered additional historic information and victims that were not previously seen by the original operation in 2004/05. This is why the scope of the Green Jacket investigation has grown from the original 25 victims reviewed by the GMCA review team, to the current 53 victims we are now working with.
I would like to once again apologise on behalf of Greater Manchester Police to all those victims who were let down in 2004 by police not thoroughly investigating the offences that had been committed against them.
Understandably many of them have been left upset by the findings of the report and to hear the full extent of the failings by authorities to protect them from harm as children. Our multi-agency Operation Green Jacket team are doing all that they can to provide them with appropriate support from specialist agencies at this difficult time.
Although this report makes for difficult reading and will understandably raise concern, I want to assure members of the public that the attitude towards investigating this type of crime has completely changed since Operation Augusta was concluded almost fifteen years ago.
Our multi-agency approach places the victim at the heart of everything that we do and ensures that proper support is provided by the right agencies and any safeguarding concerns are addressed.
With this support from partners, it provides a stronger footing for police to effectively prevent, disrupt and investigate these crimes. In the last
12 months, Greater Manchester Police has seen 58 offenders convicted of child sexual exploitation related offences and receive sentences totalling more than 170 years imprisonment.