Shropshire Star comment: Safety of children is top priority
The renewed focus on child sexual exploitation in Telford has created an almighty clamour for action.
National newspaper coverage of the issue – covered extensively in the pages of this newspaper for a prolonged period of time – has whipped up new interest in the plight of the victims.
Telford has even been dubbed by some national newspapers as the worst town in Britain for the sexual abuse of children.
It is little wonder that people have renewed their calls for action.
While supporting all efforts to get the bottom of what happened, how it was allowed to happen and how victims can be best supported as they move forward with their lives, we must not lose sight of important facts.
Police and social care in Telford have already committed considerable resources to their inquiries and that work must not be lost. Rather, it must be added to by any subsequent inquiry, informing those who seek new answers.
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It is beyond doubt that mistakes were made. It is unarguable that alarm bells ought to have been ringing much earlier.
Much has already been learned about the industrial scale of the problem and the determination by police and social services to learn lessons and do more has been commendable.
The issues raised in the pages of the national newspapers do not appear to shed new light on the issue, other than estimating the potential number of victims at as many as 1,000 people.
However, there is clearly a feeling that a full independent inquiry would answer any outstanding questions over the response to the issue in Telford – and address any lingering doubts that lessons have been learned by the authorities.
It is therefore to be hoped that any independent inquiry will address these outstanding questions and also provide some measure of closure for the town.
It is important that we learns the lessons from the past. Child sex exploitation is a vile crime that must be tackled – and dealing with it effectively represents an ongoing challenge for the police and council in future.
It is vital that we do not let up in our quest to keep young people safe. No stone must be left unturned and no expense must be spared. Child safety is the top priority.
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