Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd is to hold a wide-ranging inquiry into the issue of child sexual exploitation.
The inquiry will be chaired by Ann Coffey, Stockport MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults.
It follows the shocking child grooming case in Rochdale which saw nine men imprisoned for a total of 77 years last year for the abuse of dozens of girls in the town.
The Coffey Inquiry will speak to agencies, experts, victims and their families, as well as drawing together the range of reports published both on the case itself, and the broader issue of child sexual exploitation. Where possible evidence will be held in public. The inquiry will then report back with recommendations on how agencies can work better together to respond effectively to the issue.
Tony said: “The Rochdale grooming case was, of course, shocking. These evil men destroyed the lives of dozens of girls in Rochdale. Those victims were subsequently let down by many agencies in Rochdale.
“This inquiry will look at the mistakes of the past, but more importantly it will look at what has been done since to protect young people. There has been a real and lasting transformation in the way police, council, health and other agencies have faced up to this devastating and complex issue in Rochdale.
“The phrase ‘learning the lessons’ is easy to say, but we have got to know that the learning has been implemented to safeguard our young people. This inquiry has the potential to help make a massive difference to the lives of young people in Greater Manchester and beyond.
“Ann Coffey’s expertise in this area is second-to-none and I am very grateful that she has agreed to chair the inquiry. I am confident her skills, experience and knowledge in this field will ensure the report will not only be a summary of what’s been done in the past, but a document that will empower us all to make our children safer.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, added: “I welcome the opportunity to chair this very important inquiry and I share Tony Lloyd’s commitment to making the lives of children in Greater Manchester safer.
“The Rochdale case shocked the country and opened many people’s eyes to the horrors of child sexual exploitation.
“It is important to assess what progress has been made since then in safeguarding children in Greater Manchester and to see what more needs to be done in the future.
“This goes beyond the police, who often only get involved once a crime has been committed. We need to think about how all agencies working together with parents and the wider community can ensure better safeguarding of children to prevent these awful crimes happening in the first place. Children and parents must be properly listened to.”
Last year Ms Coffey chaired a joint Parliamentary Inquiry by the All Party Group on Missing Children and the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers into children who go missing from care. The inquiry found that children who go missing from care are in great danger of sexual exploitation.
The inquiry will begin in the new year.