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Telford child sexual exploitation inquiry to look back 30 years

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Crime | Published:

Telford’s child sexual exploitation inquiry could focus on cases since 1989 following a request from the survivors' committee.

Terms of reference for the inquiry have been discussed by the Telford and Wrekin Council CSE Inquiry Member Advisory Group.

A document put before the group suggested the inquiry should focus on a period from 1995 onwards, as the availability of documentation and the fact that practices may have changed would make it more difficult to examine cases from further back.

But ‘Mandie’ – a member of the survivors’ committee – told the meeting that the committee wants the timeframe to focus on 1989 onwards.

She said: "They were quite adamant for it to be in line with the Children Act."

The Children Act 1989 allocates duties to local authorities, courts, parents, and other agencies in the UK, to ensure children are safeguarded and their welfare is promoted.

Sarah Jones, from legal firm Eversheds Sutherland, the commissioning body responsible for setting up the inquiry, said: "It was never our intention to exclude cases before 1995.

"What we are trying to do is be pragmatic about the work the inquiry faces.

"There are time and cost considerations."

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She said it was hoped efforts would be made to find documentation relating to any case, although there were concerns the volume of documentation could become vast.

However, later in the meeting she said there would be no issue with changing the date.

It followed calls from members in the group that the request from the survivors' committee should be supported.

Proposals were also put forward to make minor alterations to some of the terms outlined.

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It is proposed that the inquiry should examine the local taxi industry and taxi licensing, and the impact that has had on CSE, but there was a call to include the 'night-time economy'.

Patterns

The terms said the inquiry would identify if there were any organisational and systemic failures, but Newport Councillor Tim Nelson suggested it should examine if there still are.

The document says the aims will include examining 'the nature, extent and patterns' of CSE in Telford and the response of third-party organisations to cases.

It will also examine the impact of CSE on victims and survivors, attitudes towards them and the 'history of changes made to practice, policy and/or legislation in place to identify and address CSE in Telford, and the sufficiency of such changes'.

The document says the inquiry will examine all reports of CSE up until a cut-off date, to be chosen by chairman Tom Crowther QC.

It also says the scope of the Inquiry is limited to those cases of CSE where there is some link to Telford, whether the survivors were living or studying in Telford or were brought from outside the town and exploited there.

The terms of reference document says: "The overall aim and purpose of this Inquiry is to raise public awareness of CSE in Telford during the period covered by the inquiry.

"It will provide an opportunity for the victims, survivors and their families to be heard. The Inquiry will be informed by their concerns, and information provided by others, to establish what recommendations can be made to ensure CSE is recognised, reported and steps taken to protect children and help prevent CSE in the future."

The inquiry will also consider whether Telford and Wrekin Council Safeguarding Children Board’s 2014 CSE report, its Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee’s 2016 review and Ofsted’s review of the borough’s children’s services in the same year 'drew accurate conclusions'.

Comments from the group, which met on Tuesday evening, will now be passed onto Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet which meets today.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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