Bucks County Council took ‘insufficient action’ on concerns raised by charity Barnados which could have stopped the abuse of two young girls in the Aylesbury sex ring, it has emerged.
Barnados worked with the ring’s two victims in 2008 and referred the case to the council and other agencies.
Eleven defendants were accused of sexual offences from 2006 to 2012, following an investigation launched in 2013, with six men yesterday found guilty by an Old Bailey jury.
Barnado’s Michelle Lee-Izu told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday: “At that time the agencies didn’t respond in a way that we wanted, that we expected them to, although some actions were taken by the local authority so we escalated those actions further.
“But insufficient action was taken as far as we were concerned.”
David Johnston, director for children’s services at the council since 2014, has apologised to the victims for ‘letting them down’.
He admitted: “Workers at the time missed a number of opportunities to perhaps protect them or to provide other services for them.”
He told the Today show that he will investigate ‘what happened at the time of Barnados reporting this and escalating it’, as this should have meant ‘a senior member of staff’ taking action.
He said practices have been reviewed and strengthened by the council since his arrival.
The police investigation was only launched after Bucks social services tried to put victims A’s children into care and she spoke out about the abuse she had suffered.
Both victims were known to social services prior to the investigation being launched.
Last year Bucks’ County Council’s children services were judged to be inadequate by Ofsted. It said that ‘failures by Buckinghamshire’s safeguarding services are widespread and serious. The result is that children are not being effectively protected’.
However, Ofsted’s report claimed that the ‘identification, tracking and risk assessment processes for young people who go missing or are at risk of sexual exploitation are effective’.