In November 2013, Greater Manchester Police apologise to Lily, the 15 year old girl that reported her rape to them in 2008. And for the failings which “led to children being put back in the hands of their abusers”. After reporting rape, her rapist, Freddie Kendakumana, had not been charged for another four years.
Formal management action has now been given to two of the officers involved. On the same day that Lily’s abusers are sentenced, a serious case review into the issue is published. It finds a catalogue of failings by a variety of agencies that has allowed a generation of underage girls to fall prey to grooming gangs.
Life for Lily, after the trials, has not been easy. In 2013, she was said to be still on medication and being treated for anxiety and depression. But she’s still glad that she eventually did get justice against the men who raped her though she found the abusive judicial process so appalling that even if she was attacked again, almost unbeliveably, she says she wouldn’t report it to the police:“…if I walked down the street now and I was raped, I wouldn’t go to the police, not because of the police just because I wouldn’t put myself through being re-victimised again and again and again.” Lily,
Lily, amazingly, is determined, however, not to be defined by being a victim: “I don’t want to be reminded of being that vulnerable girl who couldn’t defend herself…I want to be remembered for things like helping people.” This, from a girl whose courage and determination has already helped countless children.
For not only did victims like Lily lead to swathes of investigations and convictions of grooming gangs, her experiences of the court system lead to sweeping changes in the treatment of victims and witnesses:“After Rochdale the law changed. We put in place guidance for prosecutors, guidance for police officers, new support mechanisms for victims…It’s difficult to underestimate how much has changed which did not exist back in 2012.”Nazir Afzal, Former Chief Crown Prosecutor, NW England
And as well as ensuring that victims are more fairly treated, greater attempts are being made to deny groomers easy access to society’s most vulnerable:“We talk to hotels We train hotel receptionists, we go into ice-cream parlours and shisha bars, we go anywhere that we think young people might be a target for someone to groom them. And that’s something that didn’t happen 10 years ago.”Gail Hopper, Director of Children’s Services, Rochdale Council
False Claims of Race as a Factor
For some in the United Kingdom, already sickened by Savile and the exposure of systemic child abuse, the fact that these sexual predators were largely Pakistanis was unduly seized upon.
To do so, as Nazir Afzal explains, is to make a fundamental mistake.
“…they see Asians doing it and they forget that actually the vast majority of sex offenders are British White Males. So that to my mind is the danger of just profiling victims and profiling defendants. They come from all communities and from all societies.”Nazir Afzal, Former Chief Crown Prosecutor, NW England,
As the judge said to the men who abused Girl A:
“Some of you, when arrested, said it was triggered by race…What triggered this…was your lust and greed.”