Telford council: 'Bring child exploitation review forward'
Telford & Wrekin Council, which is facing questions over the handling of cases of child sexual abuse, wants to bring forward a national inquiry into the issue.
The council has asked the national Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse “to bring this review forward to Telford”.
The review is being led by Alexa Jay, who also oversaw an independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
The council has previously said Telford’s inclusion in the inquiry would mean a dedicated independent inquiry into what happened in the town is not needed.
It comes as reports in the Sunday Mirror claimed there had been as many as 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse in the borough in the last 40 years.
In the wake of the report the authority said it is also contacting the Home Office to see if any other actions or reviews are required.
It comes amid renewed calls from victims and Telford MP Lucy Allan for an independent inquiry into abuse in the town.
A petition calling for an independent inquiry into the issue had attracted more than 6,000 signatures last night.
In a statement the council insisted it acts on every report of abuse it receives.
The statement said: “Like any town or city in the country, there are still children being abused in Telford and we will not rest while this continues to be the case.
“We still face huge challenges. Many victims may not realise they are a victim of this vile and evil crime. Others may not be ready to report their ordeal.
“It is vital that every victim has confidence that police will investigate thoroughly, that they will be supported and that people will listen to them. The council accepts and regrets that some historic practices were not effective and some of the incidents referred to in recent media reports pre-date the council. Tackling child sexual abuse remains our top priority and everyone has a role to play.
“If you suspect a child is a victim of sexual offences or is being sexually abusing you must report this, even if it is just a suspicion. This council will act on every report we receive and we continue to support survivors of CSE.”
The council also defended the work carried out since seven men were jailed as a result of Operation Chalice.
The statement said: “Following these convictions in 2012 the council, police and other partners have been reviewed by the Home Office, Department for Education, Ofsted and a cross-party council scrutiny committee. The local children’s safeguarding board commissioned an independent review into CSE which was published in 2013.
“We welcome further review and believe this is best carried out by the expert national Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, chaired by Alexa Jay, who also oversaw the independent inquiry into CSE in Rotherham.
“The council is today contacting the inquiry to ask to bring this review forward to Telford. We are also contacting the Home Office to see if they feel there are any other actions they feel are appropriate.
“Previous independent inquiries into CSE in Telford identified the introduction by the council and police of the Children Abused Through Exploitation (CATE) Team in 2008 as the start of changes in practice which are now recognised regionally and nationally. In 2016 Ofsted said that partners were working well together to tackle this issue.”
Yesterday, police said tackling CSE remained a priority for the force.
To view the petition, visit change.org/p/uk-parliament-telford-needs-an-independent-inquiry-into-child-sexual-exploitation