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Barnardo’s urges public inquiry into CSE in Telford

After reports suggest up to 1,000 children could have been the victim of CSE in Telford, the children’s charity calls for a public inquiry

Published on 13th March 2018

A children’s charity which specialises in child sexual exploitation has urged a public inquiry following revelations of a huge sex abuse scandal in Telford.

Barnardo’s has urged a public inquiry after a Sunday Mirror investigation found that there could be up to 1,000 victims of child grooming gangs in the northern town.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said: “The scale of the abuse in Telford is deeply shocking and those responsible must be held accountable for any failings uncovered.

“Barnardo’s would support a public inquiry to understand what went wrong so the same mistakes are never made again,” he added.

The Sunday Mirror investigation revealed that:

  • Social workers knew of abuse in the 1990s but police took a decade to launch a probe
  • Council staff viewed abused and trafficked children as “prostitutes” instead of victims, according to previously unseen files
  • Authorities failed to keep details of abusers from Asian communities for fear of “racism”
  • Police failed to investigate one recent case five times until an MP intervened

An inquiry into CSE in Rotherham found that up to 1,500 children had been victims of CSE in the town where there is a population of 260,000. However in Telford, the population is 170,000 suggesting the scandal is the most brutal and long-running of all.

Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said: “Following the recent media coverage in relation to child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Telford, a small number of victims have contacted West Mercia Police. We are pleased they have had the confidence to come forward and we are ensuring their reports are thoroughly investigated and the appropriate support is in place for them.

“In Telford alone, the dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation Team based in the town, have since 2016, arrested 56 people, resulting in 29 charges, with a number of these investigations still ongoing. We invest a significant amount of resource in trying to identify offenders and bring them to justice for the crimes they commit.

“The CSE reports we have received this week relate to non-recent child sexual exploitation offences and we will be reviewing them alongside any other available information, ensuring those reporting abuse are fully supported.

“Any incident or information that is reported to us as child sexual exploitation is investigated as such and taken very seriously, regardless of whether or not the victim is engaged with authorities. We will always pursue any lines of enquiry whilst at the same time looking to support these people in any way possible,” he added.

The leader of Telford and Wrekin Council Cllr Shaun Davies is requesting a government commissioned independent inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse (CSE) in Telford prior to Operation Chalice – one of the UK’s first successful prosecutions of CSE offences that saw seven men from Telford jailed.

The council believes another council-commissioned inquiry is not appropriate as its independence and scope could be called into question, which is why it is urging the government to commission this.

A number of independent reviews of CSE have already taken place in the borough. The Council commissioned the Local Safeguarding Children Board to conduct an independent review into the handling by police, council and other partners of CSE cases and this was published in 2013.

Cllr Davies said: “The way forward must now be a government commissioned independent inquiry, with terms of reference set by government – any such inquiry commissioned by local agencies like the council or police could be seen as not being impartial. This must have complete independence.

“We have nothing to hide and have been transparent throughout – since I became leader two years ago, we have been inspected by OFSTED on this issue and been visited by the Home Office and Department of Education.

“However, I feel we must do everything possible to know and learn further from what happened in the period before Operation Chalice jailed seven men for vile crimes against children.

“The council, police and other partners’ practice has changed dramatically, however I will welcome any further light that an independent inquiry can help shed on this vile crime and further improve practice here and the many other places in the UK where has and continues to happen.“

“I accept and regret that some historic practices were not effective and some of the incidents referred to in recent media reports pre-date the council,” he added.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan added: “It is vital that police and other agencies leave no stone unturned to bring child sex abusers to justice. Our UK-wide specialist services see every day the damage caused by these horrific crimes.

“We also want policing to take into account the trauma suffered by victims, along with a child-centred approach to all child sexual abuse allegations,” he concluded.

 

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