Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

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My Response To GMP Federation Chairman Ian Hanson Regarding Knowl View School


Link to Ian Hanson’s comments:

 I stand by my criticism of Greater Manchester Police's investigation into Knowl View, as it represents a catastrophic failure to deliver justice. It has caused a huge amount of pain to survivors of abuse from Knowl View and I know there is a lot of anger at how the police have handled this. We've seen some real progress made in tackling historic abuse in recent years, but this debacle risks ruining that good work and will clearly damage public confidence in how the police tackle sexual abuse.

Everyone knows that child abuse took place on a frightening scale at Knowl View. We've seen shocking reports documenting this and heard heartbreaking testimony from people who attended the school, including that from Father Michael Seed, who described what happened there as "beyond horror". Sadly, the suffering for some of the pupils who were abused was too great - and they are no longer with us.

Greater Manchester Police has previously admitted their investigation into Knowl View in the 1990s wasn't good enough. Det Chief Supt Russ Jackson said it "fell well short of what we would expect today". When this new investigation was launched we were told things would be different. My office spent a lot of time convincing survivors that they should work with the police, as there was a real appetite now to deliver justice. They have been badly let down. 

Greater Manchester Police has never been good at accepting criticism and all too often they attack their critics when failures are exposed. They did this with Maggie Oliver, the former GMP Detective Constable, who resigned over child abuse failures in Rochdale, and now they're doing it with me. 

Ian Hanson's diatribe against me is misinformed and a better use of his time would be to study the complaints issued to the Independent Police Complaints Commission from victims of Knowl View at how they feel Greater Manchester Police has let them down.

His reference to me as a "Manchester MP" and unnecessary comments about my personal life are inaccurate, unprofessional and unbefitting of a person in his position. He should be focusing on my comments on the investigation and asking himself why a decision was made to prosecute an alleged child abuser, survivors were told of this decision and GMP accordingly broadcast this to the media - only for a decision to be made six months later to drop the case. 

This is no way to handle child abuse cases. Survivors have been marched up to the top of the hill and dropped from a great height. After making a big emotional investment in the case, they have been terribly let down.

Finally, Ian Hanson says I make no mention of the outstanding work that has been done in Rochdale by the police on child grooming.  I have done this repeatedly and said as much in my interview with the BBC yesterday. I know how hard this crime is to investigate and there is some great work being carried out by police in bringing perpetrators to justice. 

That said, we cannot ignore chronic failure and Ian Hanson will be well aware of the damning criticism of his force in the GMP Professional Standards Report, which looked at how the police investigated child grooming in Rochdale. Last year Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley admitted there had been a "complete lack of understanding" of child exploitation in Rochdale and a failure to recognise the "scale of abuse". 

I fear this lack of understanding still exists and Ian Hanson's decision to make a completely unwarranted and uninformed attack on me demonstrates this. 

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