Police 'lamentably failed' schoolgirl rape victim who was then sexually abused again

Oxford Mail: Omid Ali Omid Ali

A JUDGE has criticised a “lamentable failure” by Thames Valley Police to properly investigate allegations of rape and sexual abuse at the height of the Bullfinch inquiry.

Omid Ali was jailed for 14 years at Oxford Crown Court for subjecting a “vulnerable” teenage girl to repeated abuse and forcing her to have sex with his friends.

Judge Gordon Risius said the crimes were reported to police in January 2012 but officers did “little or nothing” to follow them up.

He said because of this lack of action, Ali went on to abuse his victim again in the summer of 2012 and wasn’t arrested until November 2013.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton last night said the failures were “unacceptable” and an internal investigation has been launched to determine what went wrong.

Thames Valley Police launched Operation Bullfinch in May 2011 to target men sexually abusing vulnerable young girls in council care.

After an 18-week trial at the Old Bailey last year seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years.

Sentencing Ali on Monday, Judge Risius, the Honorary Recorder of Oxford, said the girl reported the abuse to a teacher at her school, who notified the police and Oxfordshire County Council’s safeguarding team.

He said: “The police also spoke to her parents, who were unaware of what had been going on. The police promised to deal with the matter and to keep them informed.

“However, the officers tasked with carrying out the investigation did little or nothing to follow it up, despite a review by a more senior officer six months later.

“The jury were told that the police professional standards department is now looking into this lamentable failure to investigate very serious allegations with the care and attention they warranted.”

He added this lack of action had “undoubted consequences for the girl” because her abuser struck again the following summer.

On that occasion Ali threatened his victim into having sex with two of his friends, who have not yet been tried, and then told her to leave quickly afterwards.

Judge Risius said this involved the “degradation and humiliation” of a “particularly vulnerable” girl.

Ali, of James Wolfe Road, Headington, was convicted of rape, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sexual activity with a child.

Labour MP for Oxford East Andrew Smith said the judge’s comments sounded a “very serious warning note”. He added: “Especially after the experience of Operation Bullfinch, it is alarming and surprising that police did not follow up on this, with the wholly unacceptable consequences the judge referred to.

“The public will want to know exactly what went wrong and what has been done to put it right.

“People need to have confidence that the police are doing all they can to the highest standards of professionalism and effectiveness.”

'Lamentable failure of police'

Oxford Mail:

Judge Gordon Risius, above, said: “The school very properly alerted the police immediately, together with the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Team, and the police visited the school.

“The police also spoke to her parents, who were unaware of what had been going on. The police promised to deal with the matter and to keep them informed.

“However, the officers tasked with carrying out the investigation did little or nothing to follow it up, despite a review by a more senior officer six months later.

“The jury were told that the police professional standards department is now looking into this lamentable failure to investigate very serious allegations with the care and attention they warranted.

“Whether or not you realised that the police were taking no action, it had undoubted consequences for the girl, because during the school summer holidays in 2012 you asked her to get in touch with you.

“Having heard nothing from the police; she went to your home by herself, only to find that two other young men, K and H, were present.

“She asked to speak to you privately, but you refused and quickly made it clear that she was to have sex with them.

“She made her unwillingness to do so abundantly plain, but then you threatened to tell the police which had the effect you knew it would have so she submitted once again to your wishes, for fear that if she refused, her family would discover more about what had been happening.

“First you insisted on her undressing in front of the three of you. Both young men then proceeded in turn to have sexual intercourse with her.

“You then told her to get dressed and to leave within five minutes, because you and your friends needed some sleep.

“The effect of this outrageous behaviour was that once again the girl kept silent for some time, though she did eventually confide in a school friend.”

'We moved quickly to rectify situation'

Oxford Mail:

Chief Constable Sara Thornton, above, said: “The initial handling of this case was completely unacceptable and is being investigated by the Professional Standards Department.

“This investigation is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following a mandatory referral in January of this year.

“It is therefore inappropriate for Thames Valley Police to comment further at this stage.

“As soon as the deficiencies came to light the force moved quickly to rectify the situation, working closely with the victim and her family and arresting Omid Ali for his offences. As a result, he has been handed a significant sentence of 14 years in prison.”

A spokesman refused to comment when questioned about the parallels with Operation Bullfinch.

'We always listen to children'

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “We can’t comment on individual cases.

“However Oxfordshire County Council takes grooming and sexual exploitation of children very seriously and encourages anyone with concerns to contact the specialist Kingfisher unit.

“We will always listen to children.”

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