50 questions for Burnham and council bosses

Liberal Democrat councillors have said that the report into historic safeguarding and CSE in the borough is just the start of a rigorous investigation into what went wrong for Sophie and other children. They have submitted 50 questions to Council Chief Executive Harry Catherall, Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham and to the authors of the report, Gary Newsam and Malcolm Ridgway.

Mark Kenyon, Liberal Democrat councillor for Grotton, Springhead & Lees, said: “The report raises more questions than it answers. It was intended to give us all assurance that CSE was and is being targeted effectively. While these questions are outstanding, none of us can have that assurance.”

Questions being asked include: why the reports authors weren’t allowed free access to GMP records, why only half of the 104 people identified in the report were interviewed, why Sophie’s aunt was advised to keep quiet about her concerns about Sophie “dating” much older men, why Sophie’s case was closed by social care even after they knew of her terrible ordeal, and how are intelligence reports into CSE being shared throughout GMP considering the failure of their new IT system (iOPS).

As well as asking who made these decisions, and if disciplinary actions has now followed, they also ask how procedures have changed to make sure these failures cannot happen again.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani concluded: “We think it is important to know the answers to all of these questions promptly, without evasion and in full. Only by doing that will the Council, GMP and the Mayor begin to show that they have understood what went wrong. Responsibility for these failures is a terrible weight. However, this is insignificant when compared to the suffering that these failures have caused.”

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