Exclusive: Police officers were asked to compile data of missing people who turned up with new items or with older men as part of the operation while looking out for any reference to the McDonald’s in the Four Corners
A popular Glasgow McDonald’s was targeted by Afghan men looking to groom children, an ex-cop has claimed.
The former Police Scotland officer alleges that bobbies were told to “watch out for any reference” to the Jamaica Street McDonald’s at the famous Four Corners as “intelligence from elsewhere” indicated that “males from Afghanistan” were “using it as a base” to exploit children in care.
The former cop told the Scottish Daily Express that they were based “primarily outside” and when it started to rain they would move to the Hielanman’s Umbrella under Glasgow Central railway station. It is thought they would approach vulnerable-looking children with an aim of exploiting them.
The former officer was part of Operation Dash, a broader attempt to root out child sexual exploitation across the Strathclyde police area working in partnership with charity Barnardo’s Scotland to gather intelligence.
Police have carried out two investigations into grooming gangs in and around Scotland’s largest city, Operation Cotswold and Operation Dash.
Operation Cotswold was set up in 2011 and focused on a group of Middle Eastern asylum seekers in the north of the city. At least 26 potential victims were identified and files were sent to the procurator fiscal.
Police Scotland ended Operation Dash almost two years after it started with 27 offenders reported to the procurator fiscal. One culprit, 20-year-old Afghan asylum seeker Javaid Akhond, was jailed for six years for preying on young girls.
The officer was part of the team providing research for CID to investigate concentrating on children in care, which lasted about three or four months.
He told the Scottish Daily Express: “We concentrated on children in care. Each division had cops checking files for evidence of grooming, such as missing person reports which mentioned the missing person had returned home with new clothes, or other gifts, or any disclosures of being with older men, or being dropped off by older men.
“We found a report that mentioned a girl who had been in care, had invited some other girls from a Paisley care home to a party in Clydebank, where there were older men.
“There was no more detail than that, so we passed it on for further enquiry to the DCs who were part of the next phase, which was to make further enquiry into what we found. I did not find out what the result was.
“I also remember being told to watch out for any reference to the McDonald’s in Glasgow at the junction of Argyle Street and Jamaica Street, as there was intelligence from elsewhere that males from Afghanistan were using it as a base.
“We did not find anything specific about that. The problem we ran into, was the lack of detail in the reports, which may just say ‘traced in city centre’, but did not say where or what the missing person was doing, or who she was with.”
The information was then passed over to the CID team based out of the Baird Street police office and fed from a machine. The division would never hear back as it was “typical of CID operations”. He added: “Any uniform cops brought in to assist were kept out of the loop as much as possible.”
In 2020, it was reported that Police Scotland took down a large gang of asylum seekers from the Kurdish, Afghani, Egyptian, Moroccan, Turkish, Pakistani and Iraqi communities.
The gang was reported to have preyed on the young girls and had at least 44 victims, including six youngsters who were all known to each other.
Officers identified 55 suspected members of the group with 46 positively identified and one victim believed to have been abused by 28 men with another linked to 23
Police have said that 19 members were reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal, but it’s unknown how many were convicted
Glasgow city centre – including the main entrance to Central Station along with sections of Hope Street, Union Street and St Vincent Street – has topped the list of the worst neighbourhoods for crime in Scotland.
The third-placed area is just to the south including the ‘Four Corners’, the Hielanman’s Umbrella and parts of the Broomielaw.
Campaigner and survivor of historical abuse Dave Sharpe said: “I’ve met young rent boys and prostitutes in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I met a guy in Glasgow city mission in 2018 and he was fearful for his life as he was a survivor of abuse and I met the police who confirmed what I was saying.
“These were all kids who were in care. Nothing has changed and nothing is being done because no one cares and too many people are exploiting our children. I have spoken to police officers who have told me they know when they arrest young boys and girls they are throwing them into the wolves cage in these care homes and young offenders institutions where they will continue to be abused until they take their own life.
“The most shocking thing was the young kids aged 16, 17, 18, 19 who were in care and had just run away and no one came looking for them. Almost all of these kids were being sexually abused in care and when they left the abusers just found them and carried on abusing them. What really hurt me the most was that many of these kids were in trouble with the police.
“Many were on bail and knew that if they got in trouble again they were guaranteed to go to prison or a young offenders institution. The abusers knew this and they would just pass these kids around each other. Many many thousands of these kids are the people who fled to London. Nothing has changed in decades.
“I was kicked out of the home in April 1976 and within weeks I was on the streets of London and I stayed there for years and there was never a time when there weren’t hundreds of Scottish children who very quickly pimped out. I still have nightmares about lots of my friends getting taken away in big flash jags and I never saw them again. I have lived with that nightmare my whole life.”