Statement on public inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation
Following comments at Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday, the Council wishes to make clear that it has called for a Government-commissioned independent expert inquiry in Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Telford.
The Home Office has today said issues affecting Telford will be covered by the national Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) headed by Prof Alexis Jay OBE.
The Council believes only a statutory centrally-commissioned independent expert inquiry can meet public expectations and secure public trust in such a process.
This is because:
• An independent inquiry commissioned and scoped by the Council risks not being seen as impartial. Such an inquiry must be truly independent – if the Council appoints someone to investigate and agrees terms of reference, it can be accused of acting as “judge and jury”.
• A Council commissioned inquiry would have no legal basis to compel individuals and agencies such as police, CCG, PCT, Hospitals Trust and Shropshire Council, which preceded this Council, to co-operate or give evidence. Considering the historic nature of the cases highlighted in Telford, many individuals as well as other agencies would be likely to be called to give evidence. The cases highlighted by media have involved many agencies.
• Due to the limited scope of a council-commissioned inquiry, such an inquiry’s findings could be incomplete. The victims of this vile crime and the public rightly expect a “full inquiry”, which only an independent expert public inquiry commissioned by Government can do.
• Cases highlighted by media go back 40 years, yet this Council has only been in existence for 20 years. Anything pre-1998 could not be covered by a Council-commissioned inquiry.
• The Council has already commissioned an independent review which reported in 2013, while Telford was the one of first areas in the country to make prosecutions against organised CSE
Following its inspection of the Council in 2016, OFSTED’s report 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.
“There is a strong commitment from the local authority and its partners to tackle child sexual exploitation…consequently young people receive comprehensive and well-co-ordinated services that make a positive difference.”
The Council will also be seeking a meeting with the Home Office to discuss the best way forward.
Tackling child sexual abuse remains the Council’s 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 should contact police in the first instance by calling 101, call Childline on 0800 1111 or report to Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) online.