Drama high­lights groom­ing case

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE -

A NEW three-part BBC drama star­ring Max­ine Peake is to high­light how vul­ner­a­ble girls were let down by the au­thor­i­ties and abused by Rochdale’s groom­ing gangs.

Three Girls airs on BBC1 on Tues­day, May 16, for three con­sec­u­tive nights and tells the story of three vul­ner­a­ble girls who were plied with drink and sex­u­ally abused by a gang of men in Rochdale for up to four years.

Po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors found the al­le­ga­tions weren’t ‘cred­i­ble’ and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was shelved while the abuse con­tin­ued.

At the time po­lice were un­der pres­sure to tackle ‘vol­ume crime’ like bur­glar­ies.

The probe was even­tu­ally re­sumed and the gang was jailed in 2012, prompt­ing po­lice, Crown pros­e­cu­tors and Rochdale coun­cil to apol­o­gise for their fail­ings.

The gang’s ring­leader, Shabir Ahmed, was jailed for 19 years af­ter be­ing found guilty of a string of child sex of­fences.

The 59-year-old fa­ther-of-four, who en­cour­aged his victims to call him ‘daddy’, raped an un­der-age girl above a Hey­wood take­away where he worked as a de­liv­ery driver be­fore shar­ing her among his friends so they could also sex­u­ally abuse her.

In the drama­ti­sa­tion, Max­ine Peake and Les­ley Sharp play two women who were in­stru­men­tal in get­ting the girls’ voices heard.

Les­ley Sharpe plays DC Mar­garet Oliver, who would go on to re­sign in dis­gust from Greater Manch­ester Po­lice over the force’s han­dling of the abuse. She turned whistle­blower and be­came an out­spo­ken critic of GMP.

The 2012 case marked a wa­ter­shed in at­ti­tudes to­wards mainly white, vul­ner­a­ble, work­ing-class girls - of­ten dis­missed as pros­ti­tutes - who were be­ing abused by crim­i­nal gangs of mostly Asian men.

In a trailer for the drama, Max­ine Peake’s char­ac­ter says: “There’s no such thing as a child pros­ti­tute. What there is, is a child who’s be­ing abused.”

The drama has been made with the full sup­port of the victims and their fam­i­lies.

Max­ine Peake stars in the three-part drama

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