Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has apologised on behalf of his force for letting down the victims of a grooming gang allowed to abuse vulnerable girls with virtual impunity fifteen years ago.

He said he had felt 'personally disgusted' at the crimes they had suffered.

The police chief spoke out after a damning official report published today revealed how children were raped and abused by up to 100 members of a Manchester grooming gang.

But despite police and social workers knowing what was happening, they weren’t stopped.

The report has 'vindicated' the whistleblower police officer Maggie Oliver who worked on Operation Augusta, and the subsequent Rochdale sex grooming investigation, who has fought for the truth of the outrage to finally emerge.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins

She accused senior police officers of trying to 'bury the truth' in a press conference earlier on Tuesday.

Later, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins read a statement to the media although he would not take questions.

Paedophiles operated 'in plain sight' in south Manchester

He told reporters: "On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, I want to apologise to all those vulnerable children who were let down in 2004 when the Greater Manchester Police did not thoroughly investigate the abhorrent offences that have been committed against them.

"I want to say I'm personally disgusted that these children were not cared for and the awful abuse that they suffered.

"I'm committed to doing all that we can to ensuring that they receive the justice today that they were denied 15 years ago."

He said that since Mayor Andy Burnham had launched the review he had been 'personally involved and committed to sharing all of the information that the review required from the very beginning'.

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Operation Augusta

The top cop detailed how his force started a new investigation into the 2004/5 abuse including a fresh probe into the abuse and death, at the age of just 15, of Victoria Agoglia.

Her death had prompted the original investigation into the girls being abused along Rusholme's Curry Mile.

He went on: "In August 2018 it became clear that Operation Augusta in 2004/5 was not to the standard that I would have expected and I immediately commissioned a review to ensure that any risks posed by potential perpetrators in that time would be addressed today.

Victoria Agoglia
Victoria Agoglia

"I also wanted to ensure that any victims were provided with the appropriate support from specialist agencies.

"Following our internal review, a multi-agency team was established with Manchester city council under Operation Green Jacket.

"This included a senior investigating officer leading a major incident team who were prepared to follow any potential lines of enquiry which could be pursued and seek to bring any of the perpetrators to justice.

"To date Operation Green Jacket has identified 53 potential victims from 2004/5.

"48 of those victims that were children in looked after care in 04/05.

Former GMP detective Maggie Oliver blew the whistle

"Of the 53 identified, we have so far identified viable lines of enquiry into 38 of those victims.

"This includes the horrific abuse of Victoria Agoglia. In September 2019, one man was arrested and another interviewed under caution in relation to the abuse that Victoria suffered.

"Both men have been released under investigation and our enquiries remain on-going.

"We will continue to do all that we can to safeguard the children in our communities. Greater Manchester Police will investigate any report of child exploitation that is made to us. Thank you very much." 

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