Telford MP welcomes 'prompt' action on child sex abuse inquiry

Telford's MP says she is glad that action is being taken promptly to commission a council-led inquiry into child sexual exploitation.

Telford's MP Lucy Allan
Telford's MP Lucy Allan

Last week an extraordinary meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council gave the green light for an independent public inquiry, following claims in a national newspaper that up to 1,000 girls may have been abused over a period of 40 years.

Under the move Councillor Lee Carter is now the cabinet member with special responsibility for the inquiry, and an initial advisory group made up of two representatives from each political group will be set up to arrange the scope of the inquiry and recommend a suitable inquiry chairperson.

Telford's MP Lucy Allan has welcomed the steps being taken to launch the inquiry.

She said: “I am pleased the council is acting promptly to implement the decision taken at last week’s council meeting to commission an independent inquiry.

“I am glad that the council now accepts that such an inquiry will not cost ‘millions’ as they first suggested and that they have made a provision of £350,000.

“I hope that the council follows the Rotherham style model and seeks to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy or delay. The Rotherham inquiry was quick and nimble, led by a single independent chair. The council needs to act now to appoint a chair, so the chair can begin this important work.

“We have heard from the council about the need to look back to before 1998, and the concerns the council has about the difficulties of compelling third parties to participate.

"We know now that both the police and Shropshire Council are willing to cooperate. But whether the focus is on the past or the present, this will be a matter for the independent chair, not the council.

“CSE is a live issue in our community today and it is affecting the lives of victims and their families.

"I would urge the council to appoint a chair without delay. It would not be appropriate for the council to attempt to dictate the remit of the inquiry nor to fetter the discretion of the chair.

“In other towns where CSE has been prevalent, we have seen that it was the culture of the council that led to inaction and silence over many years.”

Councillor Carter said the inquiry will be about building the confidence of victims, survivors, the families and the wider community.

Telford & Wrekin has been responsible for social services and child welfare since 1998. Before that, responsibility fell to the former Shropshire County Council.

The national independent inquiry into child sexual abuse is also bringing its Truth Project to the borough soon to hear from victims.

Seven Telford men were jailed in 2013 following the police’s Operation Chalice investigation on child sex abuse charges.

A report setting out the arrangements for the inquiry will be discussed at Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet meeting today.

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