Almost 7,000 people have signed the change.org petition after it was revealed a sex offender is set to be released from prison after serving just five years of his 22-year sentence.
Today the identity of that offender was revealed to be Ali, a leader of a gang that targeted young and vulnerable girls in Shropshire.
Ashley Ray, who set up the petition wrote: “An example needs to be set to stop these grooming gangs.”
People in Telford who know the case, or who know those affected by the crimes, have taken to social media to voice disgust after it was revealed that Ali is set to be released.
The news has also been criticised by Telford’s MP Lucy Allan, who said victims of the gang are “living in fear” and said that more should be done to protect victims of child sexual exploitation.
Mubarek Ali, also known as Max, was named as one of the ringleaders of the gang, following a police investigation dubbed Operation Chalice, and saw victims as young as 12.
The investigation revealed details of a network of men from who targeted young and vulnerable teenage girls.
After West Mercia Police’s investigation into suspected under-age sex and child prostitution, seven men were finally convicted at Worcester Crown Court in 2013, after cases stretching over two years, including Mubarek, 34, of Regent Street Wellington, who was given 22 years, 14 years immediate custody and eight years on licence, for seven offences – four of controlling child prostitution, causing child prostitution and two offences of trafficking in the UK for the purpose of prostitution, involving two of the victims.
He was also made the subject of a lifelong sexual offences prevention order.
The court heard the young girls were offered cash, gifts and free car journeys before being taken to the restaurant to have sex.
Five other men were also convicted relating to child prostitution in the town.
The incidents took place in bedrooms above an Indian restaurant in the town and the proprietors were unaware of the activities taking place there.
But the news of his release, believed to be in November, has caused “huge anxiety” to victims, according to the Telford MP, who says they are worried that he may be able to come back to Telford.
The Ministry of Justice has said it cannot comment on individual cases but confirmed that the offender is currently still in custody.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, most prisoners must be automatically released at the halfway point of their sentence.
Time spent in custody on remand counts towards the length of time an offender serves behind bars.
Last year, one of the victims of the ring, writing under the pseudonym Holly Archer, released a book telling her story of the case called I Never Gave My Consent.
At the end of last year, West Mercia Police’s Chief Superintendant in Telford, Tom Harding rejected criticism of the borough for having high rates of child sexual offences and clarified that very few of these offences are indeed child sexual exploitation. The high figures, he believes, are down to higher levels of reporting and partnership working – which he believes should be seen as a positive.
Supt Harding said that since Operation Chalice, which saw seven men jailed for a total of 49 years for running a child sex ring in the town in 2013, a significant amount of time and resources had been put into investigating child sexual offences and exploitation in Telford.
But he stressed that gangs, like those seen in the case, are very much in the minority.
He said that the public perception that gangs of Asian men were going around the borough grooming children and responsible for the majority of child sexual offences could not be further from the truth, with the reality being much more complex.
Figures showed that in 37 per cent of Telford’s child sexual offence cases, both the offender and the victim are under the age of 15.
In 54 per cent of cases, both parties are under the age of 18.
While 89 per cent of offenders are white males, just two per cent are Asian males.
A petition had been launched online calling for an independent review into CSE in Telford similar to one that was undertaken in Rotherham, after MP Lucy Allan called for it.
But Supt Harding has said a similar investigation would not work in Telford because of the nature of the crime.