One of the victims of a Bradford grooming gang has told the media that most of the girls at the children’s home where she was placed by local authority social workers were being sexually exploited by gangs of immigrant males. She called for a nationwide inquiry, alleging that numerous grooming and abuse gangs across the country — including the most notorious cases in Rochdale and Rotherham — are linked.
Fiona Goddard, 25, told BBC Look North regional news magazine, “I lived in a care home and I know that most of the girls, barring about three, were all getting sexually exploited as well.
“I also met numerous girls while we were out with other guys that maybe didn’t come from care homes, but came from broken backgrounds and they were all getting exploited.”
On the extent and organisation of the systematic abuse of vulnerable girls from borken homes, she said, “When I was at that house [where she was raped], people came from Birmingham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Blackburn, Glasgow, Oxford.
“It is widespread and they are all linked.”
“There definitely needs to be a public inquiry; it needs to be an independent one,” she added.
Bradford Council’s interim child services chief Gladys Rhodes White said of Ms Goddard’s call for an iquiry, “I’m not seeing evidence that there is a wide-scale, large issue specific to Bradford.
“I think if it did come to light that there were lots of victims that had been missed,” she added, it would be something the Safeguarding Board would want to “look at”. This is typical of the authorities complacent attitude when dealing with sex crimes committed by immigrants.
Ms Goddard came forward with her complaint in 2014, after seeing a report on the abuse of more than 1,500 girls in Rotherham, and warned that while some rape survivors had gone to the police, “there are girls that either lack the understanding or aren’t in the situation where they can [come forward].”
She gave evidence in a trial at Bradford Crown Court last month that resulted in the convictions of Parvaze Ahmed, 36, Naveed Akhtar, 43, Saeed Akhtar, 55, Zeeshan Ali, 32, Keiran Harris, 28, Izar Hussain, 32, Fahim Iqbal, 28, Basharat Khaliq, 38, and Mohammed Usman, 31.
The child rapists were found guilty of 22 offences including inciting child prostitution and rape, in abuse that began in 2008 when she and another unnamed victim were 14 years old; all nine were given terms of between 18 and 20 years — but will likely be released from prison much earlier.
The young woman waived her lifelong right to anonymity to discuss her case and reach out to other potential victims of grooming gangs.