'Every effort' needed to support Telford child sexual exploitation victims
"Every effort" needs to be put into supporting victims of child sexual exploitation in Telford, a leading councillor has said.
Councillor Arnold England was speaking at a meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council's ruling cabinet.
It comes after leading charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said the scale of exploitation in the borough was "deeply concerning".
The cabinet approved a 100-page report which will now be taken on by Telford & Wrekin's Safeguarding Children board. It then has until next May to implement a number of key recommendations to tackle the problem.
- Using intelligence better to disrupt behaviour that can lead to child sexual exploitation
- Raising awareness among taxi drivers of the signs of children who could be victims of sexual exploitation
- Reviews of child and adolescent mental health services and sexual health services to improve support
- Improve the quality of supervision for professionals working with children abused through exploitation
Councillor Paul Watling, cabinet member for children and young people at Telford & Wrekin Council, said much work had already been done since the report was originally published earlier this year.
He said it should be a message they take back to their MPs.
"I'm proud that we have got a good relationship in the town and the report shows that," he added.
Councillor England, Telford &Wrekin's cabinet member for adult social care and older people, said: "I'm fully aware of the damage that it can do to the individual as I have worked with them.
"We need to put every effort into supporting young people who have been affected by this disgusting crime."
Councillor Andrew Eade, opposition leader, said: "It's a vital concern to this authority and everyone in the town.
"It's a question of how effectively we deal with them and and work with the police to do this.
"They are the worst crimes you can imagine, it's a major issue facing this council, this town, everyone in the country really.
"Funding is an issue and there are competing pressures.
"We as an authority will have to prioritise exactly what we're doing and how we intend to find what is a vital part of this authority service."
Tackling child sexual exploitation became a priority in Telford after the conclusion of the highly publicised police sting Operation Chalice, which uncovered an active gang of men operating a child sex ring and trafficking young girls all over the country for sex.
In total nine men received jail terms totalling nearly 50 years.
The two lead protagonists, brothers Ahdel Ali and Mubarek Ali, were sentenced to 18 years and 14 years in prison respectively.
Anyone concerned about a child can call the NSPCC helpline 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000, while children themselves can contact ChildLine in confidence on 0800 1111.
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