Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Investigation into three former Greater Manchester Police officers discontinued

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has discontinued an investigation into three former Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers and their involvement in investigating child sexual exploitation in South Manchester.

A mayoral review, published in January 2020, identified concerns over the resourcing of, and decision to close, the joint police and social services investigation, known as Operation Augusta. Following this, in February 2020, GMP made a conduct referral relating to three former senior officers.

Our independent investigation, which began in August 2020, looked at the decision-making process around Operation Augusta. We obtained a significant amount of evidence from witnesses, including officers who had worked on the operation and senior social services employees.

The three officers whose conduct was referred were treated as witnesses throughout. This was kept under constant review throughout our investigation.

Despite significant efforts, we were unable to determine who took the final decision to close Operation Augusta in July 2005, nor the rationale for doing so.

Challenges faced included the passage of time; a lack of available records of meetings and decisions taken at that time; and the fact some former GMP-employed police witnesses were either unable or unwilling to engage with our investigation.

Following a review in May 2022 of the substantial amount of evidence gathered, we determined there was no indication any of the three former officers had acted in a way that may have breached the standards of professional behaviour. As this meant there was no legal basis to continue the investigation, it was discontinued on 20 July.

IOPC Director of Major Investigations Steve Noonan yesterday said:

“The findings of the mayoral report caused understandable concern and it was important for our investigation into the resourcing and decision-making behind Operation Augusta to be both thorough and independent of the police.

“We gathered and reviewed a significant amount of evidence, which helped us understand some of the actions taken back then. While we found evidence that arrangements were put in place for the future safeguarding of survivors of child sexual exploitation, unfortunately, we – like the mayoral review team – were not able to locate evidence showing who took the decision to close Operation Augusta and, more importantly, why.

“We have identified several areas of potential learning for GMP to consider and now await further information on how practices have changed since 2005, which will inform our decision on whether to issue any statutory recommendations.”

We have published a summary of our investigation and its outcome on our website. 


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