Drama highlights grooming case
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