Friday 21st February 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

Chief Constable Jones and the Manchester grooming scandal

Chief Constable Jones and the Manchester grooming scandal

by TIM HICKS

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Introduction

There are currently seven mysteries surrounding North Yorkshire Police (NYP), all of which are under investigation by the NYE. These are:

  1. How were Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli able to openly rape and abuse children in Scarborough and Whitby for years without being arrested?
  2. Why did Deputy Chief Constable Sue Cross conclude, in 2012, that there was no evidence of child sexual abuse involving Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli in North Yorkshire, without interviewing any of the witnesses?
  3. Why was no disciplinary action taken against DCC Cross for issuing a report that denied the existence of a major paedophile gang in Scarborough? It was only when the NYE team participated in a BBC investigation that the truth came out. Joint BBC and NYE investigation here. NYP admitted in 2014 that Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli had between them committed thirty seven rapes and serious sexual offences including two victims that were abused by both men. In short vindicating the NYE team’s allegations that NYP had run a cover up over Jimmy Savile?
  4. What was the benefit to the North Yorkshire taxpayer of funding a bungled legal action against NYE journalists to obtain damages for the benefit of senior police officers and an injunction to prevent them from being reported on by the NYE, that in the event achieved nothing other than to leave the taxpayer footing an enormous legal bill?
  5. Why did Chief Constable Dave Jones suddenly walk into force headquarters and put in his application to retire, without any advance warning, thereby denying the force the opportunity of a normal recruitment process to find a successor prior to the Chief Constable’s retirement, in the normal way?
  6. Why, having booked holiday until the 9th of April 2018, did Chief Constable Jones put his papers in to retire and then go on immediate sick leave from that date for his full notice period until retirement. Thereby obtaining pay of about £40,000?
  7. Why will Chief Constable Winward not respond to new evidence from the NYE concerning the infamous “Nude in the Nettles” murder of “Hope” and the allegation that NYP are covering up a bungled investigation into a murder that was committed by the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe?

This article is concerned with Mystery #5 – the abrupt departure of Chief Constable Dave Jones, which he maintains was because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Introduction: The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) grooming scandal

I do not want to go into the failure of Greater Manchester Police to protect children from grooming gangs in great depth. Other full time journalists with greater resources than the NYE are doing that – and doing a very good job of it. They will be able to give better coverage, because they have the time, resourcing and local access to cover such a huge crime story.

Suffice it to say that for years, vulnerable girls aged 11 to 17 years were groomed by gangs of men in the Greater Manchester Police force area. These men gave them drugs and alcohol, then raped them and passed them around like pieces of meat to each other and also trafficked them to other gangs. If they resisted they were threatened and beaten. This resulted in the death of one of the victims Victoria Agoglia aged fifteen in 2003. BBC Newsnight report on Victoria here.

It is alleged that Senior and Chief Police Officers in Greater Manchester Police were aware of the grooming gangs, but supressed investigations, including two major investigations Operation Span and Operation Augusta.

This scandal was only exposed because of:

  • The actions of a very brave and principled GMP Detective Constable (DC) Margaret (Maggie) Oliver (Wikipedia biography here), who had participated in both Operation Span and Operation Augusta.
  • Another brave and principled woman, sexual health worker Sara Rowbotham (Wikipedia biography here), who consistently tried to get the authorities to take action over grooming gangs. According to Wikipedia she made 181 referrals detailing the abuse and sexual grooming of young people between 2005 and 2011.

Victoria Agoglia (left) and Detective Constable Maggie Oliver (Retired) (right)

Following an independent report on Operation Augusta (here) ordered by the Mayor of Manchester which found catastrophic failings by police and social workers, the GMP have accepted the findings of the report and referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). An investigation is now ongoing. Very detailed Daily Mail article here,

Apology by the current Chief Constable of GMP for his force’s failure to investigate the abhorrent offences that were committed against them in 2004 here.

In her book ‘Survivors, Fighting for Justice’, Maggie Oliver states that the GMP did not investigate the grooming gangs because:

  • GMP was subject to performance indicators or PIs, which allocated funds according to how each police force investigated “acquisitive crime”. So this was prioritised over child sex abuse and senior officers allocated resources away from Child Sexual Abuse to investigating car theft and burglaries.
  • Following the 7/7 bombings in London in March 2005, GMP did not want to do anything that would damage race relations or be seen to be racist. So it avoided targeting the grooming gangs because they involved Asian primarily Pakistani men.
  • The victims were seen by the police as prostitutes that had made an informed lifestyle choice and were not judged to be worth protecting. Even though some of them were under thirteen and incapable in law of making this choice and were vulnerable because they were in care, without any parental support. One officer is quoted as saying “Maggie let’s be honest about this. What are these kids ever going to contribute to society? In my opinion they should have just been drowned at birth”.

It is clearly ridiculous to suggest that the gangs were not investigated because of resourcing issues. The police had resources; they were just prioritised on other areas and the girls involved were written off and blamed for the crimes being committed against them.

Survivors: One Brave Detective’s Battle to Expose the Rochdale Child Abuse Scandal. [John Blake]; ISBN 1789460859

The NYE’s analysis

This is yet another child sexual abuse scandal where although everyone knew what was going on, the police did nothing, exactly the same as the Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli scandal that the NYE team uncovered. It seems nothing has changed.

In this LBC radio interview, Maggie Oliver asserts that nothing has changed, that abuse is and cover-up is still going on, and that the senior officers involved in the Rochdale grooming scandal should be charged with misconduct in public office. She asserts that nothing will change until this happens and the police will continue to ignore child sexual abuse. Essentially the position I have held for some time.

Chief Constable Dave Jones and the GMP grooming scandal

The report into the Rochdale grooming scandal does not mention the names of the police officers concerned. However, this Manchester Evening News investigation (MEN) has now named Chief Constable Jones as one of the senior officers that decided to pull resources from Operation Augusta. It is an excellent article and does the MEN and its author John Scheerhout great credit. I quote from it at length:

Operation Augusta was launched in 2004 following the death of Victoria Agoglia, 15, from Rochdale, who the report says had been abused ‘in plain sight’ of officials. 

She died of a suspected overdose, months after telling social workers she had been forcibly injected with heroin and raped. 

Abusers were able to pick up girls from care homes in and around the city’s Curry Mile and abuse them, the damning report reveals. 

But Op Augusta, the police investigation into the network which exploited Victoria and other children, was shelved in 2005. 

Eight of the suspects went on to assault or rape other girls in the years after. 

This week, the official review of the episode, commissioned by Mayor Andy Burnham, said the investigation was closed down because of a decision to pull resources from it. 

“We believe, from the evidence that we have seen, that the decision to close down Operation Augusta was driven by the decision by senior officers to remove the resources from the investigation rather than a sound understanding that all lines of enquiry had been successfully completed or exhausted”, the authors said.

 This Harrogate Informer biography of Chief Constable Dave Jones states:

“In 2002, he was promoted to Chief Superintendent, Head of Crime Support and in January 2004 was responsible for merging Crime Support and Crime Investigation branches to create Headquarters CID, becoming Head of CID with responsibility for the investigation of the most complex and serious of offences. 

From February 2006 until April 2007 he was Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, with responsibility for tackling serious and organised crime, counter terrorism and scientific services.”

The MEN article goes on to state:

Dave Jones, who retired as chief constable of North Yorkshire Police in April 2018, is understood to be the officer identified in the report as Detective Chief Superintendent A, head of V CID command. He did not provide any material to the inquiry. The official report says it had received no response from him. Documents were taken to him to refresh his memory as well as a list of questions but he ‘could not recall the detail and would not be able to assist’, according to the report. 

He did not respond when the M.E.N. asked for a statement.”

So now he is retired, Chief Constable Jones is refusing to comment. As a retired policeman, he has no obligation to comment and is absolutely entitled to decline to comment. In my opinion as a serving officer on duty, he would not credibly be able to behave in this way and would have had an obligation to respond.

The grooming gang scandal could have erupted at any time over the last two years, as a result of a leak, a TV programme, serving of misconduct papers on a police officer, or the report being published early. Chief Constable Jones could have been asked to give evidence to the enquiry on his role. So perhaps from Chief Constable Jones’s perspective it was fortuitous that he retired before any of these events came to pass. Thereby ensuring that he would not have to comment.

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