A RETIRED police officer who tried to blow the whistle on sexual abuse before Operation Bullfinch said senior county council managers must have known about his concerns.

Dermot Norridge spent nine months trying to raise the alarm when he was working for Oxford City Council as a Nuisance Officer in 2007.

The former Acting Detective Inspector sent many emails to senior managers at Oxfordshire County Council’s social services department and the police “demanding action”.

On Tuesday, a Serious Case Review into the sexual abuse identified by Operation Bullfinch revealed catastrophic failings in the organisations that were supposed to be protecting Oxford’s children.

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According to the report, he was met with “demeaning” and “hostile” responses from the then-head of children’s social care, Andy Couldrick, who is now Wokingham Borough Council chief executive.

He responded at the time that Mr Norridge’s concerns were “unsavoury” and based on “innuendo”. After a complaint was made about Mr Norridge by a senior county council manager, he was told to stop sending emails.

A city council manger also apologised “unreservedly” for Mr Norridge’s behaviour.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail yesterday, Mr Norridge said: “I had information and evidence that this girl was being picked up by older males and I had concerns about that. I thought, ‘this young girl is 12 or 13’, and because of my background it started to ring alarm bells with me. It said to me sex and drugs.

“So I decided I would report it to the police and the social services, because I was aware that this girl had social services involvement.

“So having reported it to the police and social services, it was quite apparent to me that nothing seemed to be happening.

So I started sending emails.

“But nothing was happening, so by then my emails were becoming very pointed. I was demanding action.”

He said when his manager came to him and told him to stop sending emails he realised things were getting “political”.

But he added: “They can’t say they didn’t know. I’m bemused they are now asserting that no senior manager knew about my concerns about this girl.”

Mr Norridge said when he realised the girl was one of those abused by the Oxford grooming gang he “wasn’t surprised”.

He said: “I just felt very sorry for this young girl, because she’s not had a good start in life.

“I thought the child would be protected and if any offences were committed those offenders would be prosecuted.

“I feel very sad for that girl. I do feel that she has been given poor service by the agencies that should have protected her.”

City council leader Bob Price denied anyone told Mr Norridge to stop sending emails, instead insisting the council had only apologised for his “tone”.

A spokesman for the county council said: “Anyone who raises concerns about the safety of children should be listened to very carefully.

“These well-founded concerns clearly should have been heard at the time and the council is sorry that they were not.”

In a statement, Mr Couldrick said: “The concerns were not ignored, but different decisions were taken.

“Like everyone else, I deeply regret that we didn’t have the correct information to enable us to see the patterns and the whole picture during this period.”

The girl Mr Norridge raised concerns about was the victim of 25 offences by the Bullfinch gang.

In 2007 and 2008 she was reported missing from care 148 times.