MEMBERS of the East Oxford community have said everybody should take responsibility for what happens on their doorstep.

Father-of-one Francis Boua, who runs a weekly fairtrade market at East Oxford Community Centre, said yesterday the Bullfinch scandal had left him worried for his 17-year-old daughter Marine.

The 45-year-old said: “It’s scary for me and for my daughter. It’s surprising to me because I feel safe in Oxford but you can’t predict everything.

Everyone is responsible about what happens in the community. Everyone should look after each other.”

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Mr Boua said he had seen youngsters roaming the streets alone and that parents in the community should take more responsibility for their children’s welfare.

He added: “It is the parents who have to look after their children, that’s the first step.

We also need to increase the safety of people in the community, not only girls.”

Annie Sloan store manager Sofka Smales, who moved to Oxford last year, said the scandal had not divided the East Oxford community. The 24-year-old, of Iffley Road, added: “It’s not good to know that it’s on your doorstep and that it was something awful that happened there.

“I moved down from near Rochdale and there was a similar case. I did not think, to be honest, that it would be something that happened in Oxford.

“I have seen this before in Rochdale, where there are nogo areas. But it does not feel like that at all here.”

And Miss Smales said she was concerned the review had revealed the young victims had been let down by their carers.

She added: “The girls were failed by various systems and they could have been protected.

“These girls were really vulnerable and there should be a sense of duty of doing the best in your power to protect them.

“This was an awful thing that happened here but it’s less about the community, it’s more about making sure it does not happen again, regardless of where it is.”

Aziz Ur-Rahman, owner of Cowley Road’s Aziz restaurant, said members of the East Oxford community had supported each other since news of the ordeal hit the area. The father-of-five and grandfather-of-five added: “There was a sense of shock and dismay about how this could occur on our doorstep in a city like Oxford.

“It has hit people hard but everybody has rallied round to make sure they are working together and to make sure it does not happen again.

“We all have a responsibility, we all have a role to play.

“We need to be vigilant, we need to be united and strong.”

'We must work to build a stronger community'.

Oxford Mail:

Martin Stott.

WORK needs to be done to ensure a “wedge” is not driven between different community groups, the chairman of an East Oxford residents’ association has said Martin Stott, of Divinity Road Area Residents’ Association (DRARA), said families needed to work together in the wake of the serious case review following Operation Bullfinch to build a stronger community.

He said the group had worked with leaders from the the Central Oxford Mosque, in Manzil Way, to organise joint community initiatives including a photo exhibition and a fair the past 18 months.

The father-of-two added: “DRARA is interested in promoting a strong and cohesive community right across all faiths and all cultures and within all communities.

“I have no intention of attacking or finger-pointing at my Muslim neighbours. We certainly do not blame a community as a whole for the actions of a few individuals.”

He added: “I think it’s fair to say it was a shock to most people. It was the fact that it was so widespread. This was not an isolated incident, it was organised and it had been going on for many years.”