CARERS working in Oldham's children's homes faced an "almost impossible" task in preventing young people becoming victims of sex exploitation.

This is according to Oldham Council's former lead for children's services Hugh McDonald.

The 78-year-old Labour man left his post in 2013 and did not stand for re-election in 2014 and has called for current councillors to assist in ongoing investigations into child sex exploitation in the town following a swirl of rumours and allegations on social media.

He told The Oldham Times: "When I was lead for children's services, I saw for myself that there were young Asian men turning up at a children's home in Oldham at about 10pm shouting them out.

"I said to one of the offices, 'why the ****** hell don't you keep them in' and they said, 'we can't'.

"If a young girl wants to go out, you can't keep them in. That was the story I was told at the time. "We're talking about girls in their early teens - girls who had got problems.

"People running the children's homes were legally. powerless to prevent girls being lured out.

"Whether it's changed since then, I don't know.

"But let's have it right - these people are looking after kids with problems who will face them up.

"They can say 'don't go out, it's dangerous', but if they say 'I'm going out' there's nothing they can do."

Mr McDonald said he believed the police were aware of these things happening.

"The intelligence from the police is that they knew, but more so now, with the lack of resources they have, I would think the onus would fall on the local authority, rather the police. However, if there's a crime committed then the police will come into it."