Council contacting IICSA inquiry to ask for Telford focus to come forward
Since seven Telford men were convicted after Operation Chalice, one of the first such prosecutions of its kind in the UK, we have welcomed scrutiny of the council’s practices to protect children from sexual exploitation since Telford & Wrekin was formed as a council in 1998.
Following these convictions in 2012, the Council, police and other partners have been reviewed by the Home Office, Department for Education, OFSTED and a cross party Council scrutiny committee. The Local Safeguarding Children Board commissioned an independent review into Child Sexual Exploitation which was published in 2013.
We welcome further review and believe this is best carried out by the expert national Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, chaired by Alexa Jay, who also oversaw the independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham. The Council is today contacting the Inquiry to ask to bring this review forward to Telford. We are also contacting the Home Office to see if they feel there are any other actions they feel are appropriate.
Previous independent inquiries into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford identified the introduction by the Council and Police of the Children Abused Through Exploitation (CATE) Team in 2008 as the start of changes in practice which are now recognised regionally and nationally.
In 2016, OFSTED said that partners were working well together to tackle this issue. Their 2016 report also said: “Work with children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation is very strong. The local authority has been a champion for tackling this issue. It provides leadership to partner agencies, with who this work is well coordinated. Work to protect children who go missing from home or care is thorough and improving.
“There is a strong commitment from the local authority and its partners to tackle child sexual exploitation…consequently young people receive comprehensive and well-coordinated services that make a positive difference.”
In late 2016 both the Council and West Mercia Police Crime Commissioner put extra funding into the CATE and police teams to further support work on Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford.
Like any town or city in the country, there are still children being abused in Telford and we will not rest while this continues to be the case.
We still face huge challenges. Many victims may not realise they are a victim of this vile and evil crime. Others may not be ready to report their ordeal. It is vital that every victim has confidence that police will investigate thoroughly, that they will be supported and that people will listen to them.
The Council accepts and regrets that some historic practices were not effective and some of the incidents referred to in recent media reports pre-date the Council.
Tackling child sexual abuse remains our top priority and everyone has a role to play. If you suspect a child is a victim of sexual offences or is being sexually abusing you must report this, even if it is just a suspicion. This Council will act on every report we receive and we continue to support survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation .
If anyone has any concerns, they can contact police by calling 101, call Childline on 0800 1111 or report to Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) online.