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Oxfordshire grooming gang report condemns failings of authorities

By Hayden Smith

Hundreds of girls may have been sexually exploited after authorities repeatedly failed to tackle grooming gangs responsible for "indescribably awful" abuse, a report has found.

As many as 373 children have been identified as potential victims in Oxfordshire over 16 years.

A highly-critical serious case review revealed a catalogue of failings by authorities which meant the scale of the child sexual exploitation in the county was not recognised and opportunities to tackle it were missed.

Accounts of abuse were not taken seriously, under-age girls were seen as having "consented" and described in terms that suggested they were partly to blame for their ordeal, the report said.

One victim was dismissed as a "nuisance" when she went to a police station covered in blood in the early hours of the morning, while a detective investigating an allegation of sex with a 13-year-old said she "could easily be mistaken for being 16 years old", according to the review.

Victims, who were mainly aged between 12 and 15, were groomed using drugs, alcohol and gifts before they were physically assaulted, forced into prostitution, raped and drugged.

The review was commissioned in 2012 after the activities of a paedophile ring emerged, which led to the convictions of seven men. Five of the seven convicted were of Pakistani heritage, while the victims were all white British girls.

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