Shropshire Star

'No time limit' call by MP on Telford CSE inquiry

There should be no historical limit on those who want to give evidence in Telford's CSE inquiry, the town's MP has told commissioners.

Telford MP Lucy Allan

Lucy Allan, MP for Telford and a long-time campaigner on the issue of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) who was a key figure in pressing for the inquiry, has made the comments in her official consultation response.

Addressed to the inquiry chairman Tom Crowther QC Mrs Allan said that time limits should not be imposed on when abuse took place.

She said: "The experience of any victim and/or their family members who come forward to give evidence should be fully considered irrespective of when the event occurred.

"It would be inappropriate to introduce an arbitrary cut-off date and exclude testimony, where there is a victim and/or the family wanting to be heard.

"Some of the first reported cases of CSE occurred where the victim was living in residential children's homes, some forty years ago are coming forward."

Mrs Allan has also said that the inquiry must look at the cases of people abused in Telford, and those from Telford who were abused.

She said: "It is right that the inquiry focusses on victims and survivors who lived in Telford at the time the exploitation occurred.

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"This must include all those victims who no longer live in Telford and those who were living in Telford but abused and exploited elsewhere. It is known that Telford residents were taken to Birmingham and Wolverhampton, for example and were exploited there. It is important that these cases are included in the remit of the inquiry."

She added: "The consultation invitation suggests that child sexual exploitation that took place in Telford but happened to a victim who was not a Telford resident should be excluded. I would like to invite the inquiry to reconsider for the following reasons:

"A victim who may have lived outside the borough boundary but attended school in Telford with a social network of friends and contacts within Telford, would be excluded from the inquiry. This would be a mistake as clearly the issue under consideration is Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford. The Telford authorities are responsible for crimes which take place in Telford. A victim who happened to live in say Broseley or Shifnal and was groomed and exploited in betting shops and takeaways in Telford, by Telford perpetrators should not have their testimony ignored.

"Indeed there is much for the authorities to learn from any experience of street grooming and gang activity occurring in Telford irrespective of where the victim lived."

The consultation closes tomorrow and the final terms of reference for the inquiry will be decided at a meeting next week.

The CSE inquiry members advisory group will meet on Tuesday, where they will be asked to commit to the final terms of reference and to a report on the design of the inquiry process.

The draft terms of reference are being drawn up by the commissioning body for the inquiry, IITCSE.

Jonathan Eatough, assistant director of governance, procurement and commissioning for Telford & Wrekin Council said: “Following the appointment of the inquiry independent chair in June, the first task for the commissioning body is to set the inquiry’s terms of reference and design the inquiry process.

“The public consultation began very shortly after the chair’s appointment last month allowing the public, victims and survivors and other groups to give their views on the independent inquiry’s terms of reference which will be key to helping ensure that the inquiry progresses.

"Once the consultation is complete Eversheds Sutherland will publish the draft terms of reference prior to the meeting.”