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Lower than expected number of witnesses come forward to Telford CSE inquiry

By Alex Moore | Telford | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

A “lower than expected” number of witnesses and survivors have given evidence to Telford’s child sexual exploitation inquiry, according to a progress report.

Inquiry chair Tom Crowther

The update, published online, says chairman Tom Crowther QC “intends to make a further call for evidence in the coming months, but continues to encourage anyone that has information to share to come forward”.

The Independent Inquiry into Telford Child Sexual Exploitation, chaired by former judge Tom Crowther QC, is expected to publish a final report next year.

The report says it has received around 135,000 pieces of written evidence, including 780,000 pages from Telford & Wrekin Council alone, while data protection, IT and storage issues have delayed the delivery of evidence from West Mercia Police, but this is now expected “shortly”.

The update, published on the IITCSE website, says: “The inquiry continues to meet with, and take the evidence of, witnesses who have information to provide.

“Whilst the inquiry has now taken evidence from a number of witnesses, the levels of engagement from witnesses that have suffered child sexual exploitation and/or witnessed or had concerns about potential CSE in the community, are lower than the chair had anticipated.”

Mr Crowther’s investigation is taking place in three stages, the update says. The first consists of “obtaining evidence through witness testimony and documents from stakeholders”.

Relevance

The second is “review and distillation” of material, and the writing of the report will be the third stage.

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“The chair does not expect to wait for one phase to be complete before beginning the next,” the report says.

“For example, the chair has received a great many documents from Telford and Wrekin Council and the review for relevance of that material is well under way, while the chair continues to call for and take witness evidence and request documentary material from other stakeholders.

“Of course, the chair’s investigations will almost inevitably lead to further enquiry. That is an ongoing, and rolling, process.”

The 135,000 documents already received come from sources including the council, the office of the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner.

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“A small volume of documents” have also come from the police force.

“The inquiry continues to work closely with West Mercia Police to identify and gather relevant material,” the report adds, but says this has been delayed by “discussions around data protection issues” and “navigating a number of IT and physical storage systems to identify relevant material”.

It adds: “The necessary arrangements are, however, close to being agreed, and the chair expects further relevant material from West Mercia Police to start to be disclosed shortly.”

Alex Moore

By Alex Moore
@TelfordLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Telford.

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