THE detective who uncovered the Bullfinch scandal has said Thames Valley Police let the victims down.

But Senior Investigating Officer Simon Morton said “all of us” were to blame, because no one understood the issue of child sexual exploitation.

He added that the problem of men grooming and exploiting girls is a “social issue” that is happening in every town and city in Britain.

Mr Morton said: “There wasn’t the understanding. We had to raise everyone’s knowledge and awareness of what was happening to these young girls.

“That was the key part. There was nowhere for them to go, no one understanding of what was happening to them.

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“This is not specific or unique to Oxford – this is a social issue.

“We definitely let the victims down, there is no doubt about that. But so did social services, so did teachers, so did society, so did adults.

“This is happening right across the country, in every town.

“There are still councils and police forces who have told me that they haven’t got a problem and they have. No doubt.”

He added: “I think the blame sits with all of us. I think the blame sits with everyone who doesn’t realise or understand how conditioned these victims are.

“There is nothing that these men will not do to achieve their ends.

“And when they have got their hooks into one of these victims, the victim is not responsible for their actions.

“They are completely removed, their will belongs to the offenders.

“The exploitation side of this, the conditioning is so great that even after some horrific sexual abuse, our victims wouldn’t turn to adults or the police.

“They would turn to the offenders who had raped them.”

The former Detective Inspector was instrumental in setting up the Kingfisher Unit, which brings together police, social services and health workers to tackle the sexual abuse of children.

Mr Morton - who stayed on for two years after his retirement date - said he hoped this would give a “legacy” to the work his team was doing, beyond the investigation itself.