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AIBU?

AIBU to think nobody in authority gives a toss about British children and women trafficked by rape gangs?

12 replies

Bosky · 28/09/2022 06:12

I hate the euphemism "Grooming Gangs" - they are child-rape trafficking gangs - but the pattern will be familiar. Right at the outset, the programme emphasises that this is still going on and that there is nothing "historic" about it.

If you can bear to listen, BBC Sounds "File on 4", 27th Sept:
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001cdts

Isobel's Story

There are concerns that British victims of trafficking are less likely than foreign nationals to receive Home Office support to escape exploitation.

More and more British victims of organised sexual abuse are being referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the government’s support pathway for victims of trafficking – following high profile sexual exploitation cases in Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford.

But charities are warning that British victims are less likely to be given access to safehouses, legal aid and counselling.

File on 4 hears the story of a young woman who has been raped hundreds of times since she was schoolgirl - and is still being abused despite going to the police and the Home Office for help. 'Isobel' says she has been consistently let down by the police and the Home Office who have failed to give her the support she needs to escape her abusers - causing her to be re-trafficked in recent weeks.

The Human Trafficking Foundation says victims like Isobel are being failed by the NRM and that it was designed for foreign victims of trafficking seeking asylum and has not adapted to cater for the growing number of British victims.

Producer: Hayley Mortimer
Reporter: Annabel Deas
Editor: Carl Johnston

'I was trafficked, raped, and left for my abusers to find'
BBC News - 27 Sept 2022

Two years ago, Isobel, a British woman in her early 20s, went to the police and told them how a gang of men had sexually exploited her.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of violence and sexual violence

For the previous four years the gang had relentlessly trafficked her across England, driving her to towns and cities where she was raped hundreds of times in takeaways, warehouses and in empty flats, by men who paid her abusers. The gang of men, of Pakistani heritage, subjected her to extreme violence and regularly poured petrol over her, threatening to kill her if she disclosed the abuse.

Isobel, not her real name, went to the police after seeing news that a grooming gang in another part of the country had been jailed. She says after reporting what happened, however, nobody got in touch with her for three weeks. When a police officer finally did contact her, Isobel says she felt victim-blamed and was asked why she was still in contact with her abusers.

Isobel was keen to see her perpetrators prosecuted, but says when she asked police how they were going to keep her safe - by providing a safehouse during their investigation - no plan was put in place. The gang knew where she lived and despite being temporarily free, she lived in fear.

The police also failed to refer Isobel to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a government framework that provides victims of modern slavery - including sexual exploitation victims - with vital support to rebuild their lives, including access to safehouses, counselling, financial support and legal aid.

British nationals are more likely to be referred to the NRM than victims from overseas - 31% of potential victims who were referred in 2021 were British nationals. Of those referred to the NRM because of sexual exploitation, the BBC's File on 4 found there were 462 British girls and women in 2021 - compared with 46 non-British nationals.

But Robyn Phillips, director of operations at the Human Trafficking Foundation, says there is a perception that trafficking has to cross international borders - and it is access to safehouses that British victims find most difficult to secure.

'Let down'

The gang discovered Isobel was talking to the police and began sending her threatening messages. Isobel told the police, but when no safeguarding measures were put in place, she withdrew from the investigation and the case was dropped. She was forced back into a life of exploitation by the gang and she became pregnant. 

Isobel told her abusers she was expecting a baby, but says as one of them was the likely father, they were fearful that DNA evidence would identify them. She says the gang punched her in the stomach telling her: "I'm gonna beat it out of you - it'll be the devil child."

Isobel suffered a miscarriage and went to a Sexual Assault Centre, where she was finally referred to the NRM. She was also introduced to Jess Phillips, Labour's shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, who thought Isobel's case was "so horrifying" that she went to meet her.

After talking to the MP, Isobel decided to go back to the police and try and get support from the NRM to rebuild her life. But it wasn't easy. "I asked my National Referral Mechanism worker about legal aid," says Isobel. "She started to be angry and was like 'you don't need that legal advice, because you're not an immigrant'."

The National Referral Mechanism

  • The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a Home Office framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support
  • A person who is suspected to be a victim is referred to the NRM from a first responder agency, which can be police forces, immigration authorities, the National Crime Agency, local authorities or charities such as the Salvation Army, NSPCC or Barnardo's
  • Once a referral is made, it is assessed and someone who is believed to have been a victim of trafficking or modern slavery is first given a reasonable grounds decision and can access support before being given a conclusive grounds decision, where it is accepted they were a victim

Ms Phillips says the NRM was originally designed for victims from abroad and there is a failure to provide services for "this kind of active exploitation".

"There's victim-blaming at lots of different levels, whether that's police, whether that is the sort of service provision that's meant to sit around exploitation and trafficking, and in [Isobel's] case, it has just failed her at every point," she says.

A year after she had been referred to the NRM, Isobel still hadn't received the help she was entitled to. The police investigation, which had resumed after her miscarriage, fell apart after officers failed again to put safeguarding measures in place. Now at her most vulnerable, her abusers turned up at her home again and drove her to a town where she was raped by a group of men.

She called the police and her NRW worker, who got in touch with the Salvation Army, which runs the government's modern slavery support contract. Isobel says the Salvation Army offered her a safehouse but was told she had to give up her phone. Initially she refused to do so, and she says when she called back to say she had changed her mind she was told it was too late.

Emilie Martin, from the Salvation Army, says it is not common practice for someone to be asked to give up their mobile phone, but where it does happen the individual will be issued with a replacement. She says the NRM also "provides the same needs for individuals who are British nationals and those who aren't".

The Home Office said it is "committed to tackling modern slavery and helping victims recover" and expects "police forces to investigate cases of sexual exploitation, pursue perpetrators and support victims".

The National Police Chiefs Council said a dedicated national team has been set up to improve the response to modern slavery across all police forces and ensure the "ruthless criminals behind these offences are brought to justice".

But Maggie Oliver, a former Greater Manchester Police detective, who exposed the Rochdale grooming scandal - which resulted in nine men being convicted of sex trafficking 10 years ago - says British victims of sexual exploitation in the UK are viewed differently to those being trafficked into the country.

She says authorities fail to understand that victims need protection wherever they come from. "If it happened to my daughter, I would think very, very carefully about whether I involved the police, because I think the damage victims suffer is often made ten times worse by the authorities that let them down."

Isobel's future remains unclear. She says she's constantly checking over her shoulder to see if there's anyone following her and that while she would like to see her abusers jailed, she's "got no trust in the police because they've literally just failed me from day one".

More than anything, she says she just wants to be safe.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-63010474

Good on Jess Phillips MP for answering Isobel's call for help but still the Police are failing victims. Three weeks to respond to Isobel after she reported she had been raped hundreds of times and the gang had threatened to kill her, yet they send a whole posse round to question someone in response to one complaint about a tweet or if they are "untoward about paedophiles"!

They can't claim to be "under resourced" when they have resources to spare when it comes to responding to people "offended" by tweets and protecting the feelings of paedophiles FFS! Been raped hundreds of times? Bottom of the In Tray when we can get around to it! And then even then it doesn't get followed-up!
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eurochick · 28/09/2022 06:22

That's a difficult read. Poor Isobel. How are the police getting this so wrong?

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RosaGallica · 28/09/2022 06:25

At the end of the day, our government are running a country of close on 70 million people. It is not the country I was born into. It is mostly administered from one city in the south east, by people increasingly from a particular ‘community’, if I can use that word without implying that they all know each other, of international wealth. We do not have any local government to speak of, and what power is held is held by private companies interested in the profit motive only, because it’s been run for the last 50 years by politicians ideologically committed to market forces and lack of any form of organisation. I would go so far as to say it’s been run by people for 50 years ideologically committed to the destruction of any notion of res publica and citizenship of any form. Values of any kind don't exist, not next to the importance of money.

It’s a numbers game. Numbers in money, numbers in statistics. No they don’t give a damn about any actual people, especially women and girls, as long as someone is making money somewhere and violence is something they can continue to sweep under the carpet.

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womaninatightspot · 28/09/2022 06:27

That is utterly horrendous. My heart breaks for that poor woman. The misogyny and contempt for female victims astounds me. It makes me so angry that the institution that’s supposed to protect us all is so utterly shit.

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Snowberry3 · 28/09/2022 06:32

It sounds like there is no funding. I can't see how the police can magic up a safe house, protection etc unless the money is there and the houses / lodgings are there. Seems they have nothing in place.
Hopefully this programme will cause some changes.

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megletthesecond · 28/09/2022 06:34

I caught the news report halfway through and was livid when I realised it was still going on. Glad Jess Phillips has taken it on.

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PermanentTemporary · 28/09/2022 06:38

Reading something like this is so shocking. It does remind me a bit of my work in the NHS - if a patient isn't relentlessly persistent and doesn't have a problem that fits a particular narrowly-defined shape, we're supposed to discharge immediately and it's up to the patient to claw their way back into a closed system. I can imagine that Isobel is not an 'easy victim' - recognisable from some of the accounts from Rotherham, Oxford etc. I'm guessing, without being expert, that due to her multiple traumas she will be hypervigilant, quick to protect herself by cutting off contact with services that put her at risk without offering fast or real support. And that's a logical response given the deadly danger she is constantly in.

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SavoirFlair · 28/09/2022 06:39

Why on Earth would a handful of people say YABU??

Thank you for sharing @Bosky . It seems every single stage (from police to charity) let her down, only the MP seemed to get the urgency

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Miffee · 28/09/2022 06:51

I have referred to the NRM and it never occurred to me that they would accept British victims (to be clear I haven't worked with British victims and am unlikely to, if I had I would have looked into it and discovered they did).

I am utterly unsurprised by this as the NRM is rubbish.

This article seems to imply that non UK MS or ST victims are getting this great support that UK victims aren't. They are not. The support they are getting is basically to stop them being destitute and superficially to support them from being treated like an illegal economic immigrant.

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WifeMotherWorker · 28/09/2022 06:59

A horrendous and heartbreaking story!! How is it the Government, police and public service organisations perpetually get it so wrong yet remain unacceptable for their poor performance?

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Bosky · 29/09/2022 13:29

PermanentTemporary , Miffee and especially RosaGallica - depressing but true. All of it is so wrong!

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Somethingneedstochange · 29/09/2022 21:10

It's not that they don't give a toss it's often because there's just not enough evidence for the police to present to the CPS for a successful court case. Police won't put victims through a case unless they are certain of a successful outcome.

I myself have been through a case against 3 lads. It was Investigated for 3 year's but the main ringleader wasn't even fit to be questioned. Due to previous drug and alcohol abuse he has mental disabilities. He was taken in repeatedly for questioning escorted by a mental health nurse. The other two when they eventually found they're whereabouts denied everything.

Onto my next point not all girls tell the truth. I live in the same town as a girl who caused social media outrage in May 2020 over lockdown. This wasn't the first allegation she has made. She has made multiple allegations before against white men. She fabricated evidence, even caused injuries to herself. Then she made up the grooming gang story.

It was when she was on bail and knowing her charges would soon be public knowledge that she went missing. Police located her and returned her home. The next day she posted a facebook post telling her story along with pictures of injuries. Which if she had been through what she claimed to have she wouldn't be posting it publicly on social media. Then other girls started posting stories. One posted a story almost word for word the same but with different pictures.

The bruises she had though didn't look like someone had beaten her. They looked like she had done it to herself with something. Which she admitted to doing when she accused one of the men who spent time in prison.

She claimed she had been missing multiple times before because of this grooming gang. But it was the first time that anyone had heard anything about her being missing. She says she had been groomed for 2-3 years. So since she was 16/17.

During that time she worked 3 Jobs earning her own money and chose to move out of her parents home into her own flat at 16. We also live in a small tight-knit community. If there was anything like that going on we would have known about it.

Her family said she was jailed to keep her safe. Which is more lies. She was released on bail and on a tag in November 2020. She broke her bail conditions and had her bail revoked in November 2021 and returned to jail on remand.

Her mother is also a labour councillor and grandmother head of child protection. Her trial is due to start on October 10th. This is the third attempt. Her first date was postponed due to covid. The second attempt had started but had to be postponed. Due to the jury not being aware of evidence. So let's hope justice is done. For the inocent men who she accused and buisnesses she ruined. Also as well for the real victims of grooming gang's of all ethnicities.

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Kumri · 29/09/2022 22:11

Yep. They deprioritise anything to do with women and children, but my god they’re happy to police women’s speech even when it’s not criminal, if it upsets a trans activist (or royalist).

There was a disturbing video going round on here yesterday of the new SNP ‘equality officer’ screaming abuse and crashing into a group of peacefully demonstrating women. What was most disturbing to me was not this deranged person, but that none of the police officers there cautioned this person for what was clearly a verbal assault and a physical assault. Men can literally hit women in front of the police and they do nothing.

I don’t think the police service is fit for purpose. I was robbed this year and can prove who it was and know where he works, but I didn’t report to the police because there is zero chance of them taking action against the man responsible. Just zero. It’s so depressing.

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