Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Though not well known in the U.S., former cop Maggie Oliver is a household name in Britain, where she blew the whistle on official indifference to the so-called “grooming gangs” – that is, the Muslim rape crews that have victimized thousands of white girls in cities around England. A recent YouTube interview with Peter Whittle led me, belatedly, to her 1999 memoir, Survivors, and let me begin by saying this: however much you may know about the grooming gangs – and, in particular, about the years of shameless stonewalling by police and other authorities who were terrified of Muslim unrest – reading about it all from the point of view of a frustrated insider is a supremely enraging experience.
Oliver was not a career cop. She’d already raised four children before she decided, in middle age, to join the Greater Manchester Police (GMP). Four years into the job, in 2001, she was put on a team investigating the drug death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia, a social-services client. A man was already in custody, charged with giving her drugs. It was soon established that there were a number of other white Manchester girls who were being plied with alcohol and narcotics by gangs of Pakistani men who treated them more or less as a shared harem.
What ensued was Operation Augusta, an attempt to identify and prosecute these malefactors. The gangs, Oliver learned, were no secret to social workers, who’d been trying for years to get the police to shut them down. One reason why police had refused was that national “performance indicators” rewarded them for solving burglaries and robberies, not child rapes. Another reason was that they saw the girls not as rape victims but as prostitutes. (This was largely a class issue: virtually all of the victims were working-class girls whom the police considered “white trash.”) Finally, the cops knew that if they started cuffing Muslim men, they’d be tagged as racists in the Guardian and by members of what the Brits like to call “certain communities.”
Though shocked by her fellow officers’ apathy, Oliver hoped to turn it around. By August 2004, her team had compiled a list of over 200 men who they suspected of abusing at least 26 girls. She was sure that the evidence they’d accumulated would set the wheels of justice turning. But she was wrong. Higher-ups ordered Operation Augusta shut down, the decision coming immediately on the heels of the jihadist London bombings of July 5, 2005, in which 52 people were killed and almost 800 wounded. In short, instead of responding to this barbaric act of religious war by stepping up efforts to crush a rape gang that was, after all, pursuing its own brand of jihad against the most vulnerable of infidels, the powers that be decided to go into a defeatist cringe.
Cut to 2008. A similar rape gang was uncovered in Rochdale, a town of 100,000 within the GMP’s jurisdiction. Among the victims was Amber, a white girl who’d been arrested at 15 as a pimp. (While the police were hesitant to nab Muslim rapists, then, they weren’t scared to book a white girl who, in her ignorance, introduced friends to the thugs who gave her vodka and cocaine.) At first, when Oliver was asked to help pursue these rapists as part of the newly inaugurated Operation Span, she said no. “I’ve been here before,” she told a superior, who replied: “I give you my word that will not happen this time.” After being repeatedly reassured that this wouldn’t be another aborted mission, she agreed to join the team.
The first order of business was to gather testimony from the victims – which meant winning their trust. This wasn’t easy. Amber, her sister Ruby, and their mother, Lorna – whose desperate attempts to get the police to protect her children had been rebuffed again and again – despised the cops. Over time, however, Oliver won their confidence. Eventually, she and her team had a list of at least 26 victims and 29 suspects – which, they knew, were “only the tip of the iceberg.”
But even as the case started to take shape, she had a bad “gut feeling.” One by one, key team members were reassigned. The Home Office exhibited special interest in Operation Span – which, she soon perceived, didn’t mean that it was taking child abuse seriously, but that it was worried the operation would cause unrest in the aforementioned “communities.” Confronting a colleague about the scaling back of Operation Span, Oliver was told: “Maggie, let’s be honest about this. What are these kids ever going to contribute to society?…In my opinion, they should have just been drowned at birth!”
So it was that Operation Span went the way of Operation Augusta. Once again, girls were cruelly betrayed by the cops. When Oliver protested, she was put firmly in her place. In a desperate attempt to get a hearing, she contacted Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of the GMP, whose eloquent public statements about “doing the right thing” convinced her he’d take her side. She never heard back. When Operation Span concluded in May 2012 with the convictions of only nine men, police officials congratulated themselves and pretended that the problem had been put to bed.
Burned twice, Oliver realized that the only way to win justice for grooming-gang victims was to quit her job and blow the whistle on the GMP. She did so, bringing to public awareness her former colleagues’ inexcusable abdication of responsibility. The news, as Robert Spencer wrote in 2017, “ought to have brought down the Prime Minister and the entire political class.” In fact, not a single one of the police officials whom Oliver called out for neglecting rape victims was punished. As she’s come to realize, the higher-ups all take care of one another; it’s the UK version of the Deep State. (Chief Constable Fahy, on whose watch the Rochdale scandal took place, is now Sir Peter Fahy.) Meanwhile these same higher-ups, as she told Peter Whittle, “tried to destroy me. They threw the whole weight of the organization against me. And they almost succeeded.”
Since Oliver’s departure from the GMP, Oliver has done her part, consulting on BBC programs about the grooming gangs and forming a foundation to help victims. But as she herself admits, the problem has only gotten worse. Although grooming gangs have been uncovered in a growing list of English cities – no thanks to the police – the number of convictions remains modest. These days, 98.5% of rape cases never make it to court. Most of the assailants that Amber and other victims identified years ago can still be seen walking free on the streets of Rochdale. And the cops who betrayed those girls are still walking the beat, uninterested in arresting Muslim rapists but eager as hell to punish honest citizens for criticizing Islam.
In December, the Home Office released a long-awaited (and obscenely expensive) report that amounted to yet another whitewash. Its message: white men rape, too! Oliver called it a product of “willful blindness,” but the Guardian cheered: the report dispelled the “myth of ‘Asian grooming gangs’ popularized by [the] far right.” In a follow-up piece, Ella Cockbain and Waqas Tufail, two academic criminologists, argued that the report didn’t go far enough: why dwell on Muslim rape and not on other forms of child abuse, such as those that occur “online, and in schools, care homes and other institutions”? The institutional rot, then, hasn’t gone away. Even with the terrible facts exposed, the determination to lie about them endures. And children keep being raped.