Shropshire Star

U-turn as Telford council calls for independent inquiry on child sex abuse in town

Child sexual abuse in Telford should be investigated through a dedicated independent public inquiry, the borough's council said today.

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The move represents a U-turn for Telford & Wrekin Council, which has said it has "nothing to hide" over its handling of cases of grooming and sexual abuse of children in the town.

The authority had previously insisted that the issue, which saw seven men jailed in 2012, could be examined as part of the national Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, being led by Alexa Jay, who carried out inquiries into the Rotherham abuse scandal.

There have been repeated calls from the town's MP, Lucy Allan, for an independent inquiry into grooming and abuse in the town since 2016.

This afternoon Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies said the council now believes that only a government commissioned inquiry will allay public concerns over the issue, which has seen the town cast into the national spotlight.

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Councillor Davies said: “I grew up in Telford and was at school when many of the horrific cases reported over the last few days took place. As a resident, a contemporary of those who suffered and now as a parent, these stories sicken me.

“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."

The council leader said he would ask the Home Secretary to commission an independent inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse (CSE) in Telford prior to Operation Chalice.

Historic issues must be examined

Councillor Davies said the council was satisfied that appropriate action has been taken since Operation Chalice resulted in the prosecution of seven men for abusing children in the town, but that historic issues must be examined.

He said: "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."

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