Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford
We have issued a letter from the council's Managing Director Richard Partington and Director of Children and Family Services Clive Jones explaining the work we are doing to tackle child sexual exploitation.
We know that many of you are aware of recent media coverage around historic cases of child sexual exploitation in the borough and want to make it very clear that we believe that the sexual abuse of children and child abuse are the vilest and most evil of crimes. Safeguarding children and tackling child sexual exploitation has always been the top priority for us and the Council services that we manage.
It has been claimed that we, along with others, told the Home Secretary that no inquiry into child sexual exploitation was necessary.
This is not true.
We have always been and continue to be supportive of an independent public inquiry into the historic incidents of child sexual exploitation in Telford.
The Government set up and funded an independent inquiry and, within its terms of reference, it explicitly states that Telford, along with some other towns and cities, would be specifically considered by this Inquiry. This inquiry is chaired by Professor Alexis Jay OBE, who also chaired an independent Inquiry in Rotherham. It has therefore always seemed appropriate to us for this expert independent inquiry to look into past events in Telford.
Much of what has been highlighted in the media this past week in terms of some very serious and terrible events does not represent the Telford of today. Most happened 10–20 years ago or even longer ago.
But sadly, child sexual exploitation still exists in Telford - as it does in every other town and city in the country. Our specialist team is currently supporting 46 young people.
In 2016, after a four week comprehensive inspection of Council services, OFSTED inspectors’ findings were that “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…There is a strong commitment from the local authority and its partners to tackle child sexual exploitation”.
We believe that we, along with other senior manager colleagues and key Cabinet members, have played a positive role ‘on our watch’ in helping to improve the Council’s services. But there can be no room for complacency. We know our services aren’t perfect and we are always looking to improve, but our services now are so much better than they were 10+ years ago.
There has been talk of cover-ups and of authorities down-playing child sexual exploitation here. An independent review was commissioned to look into events in Telford and Wrekin between December 2008 and March 2013 so that services could learn and improve. The Council’s Scrutiny Committee also carried out an 18 month review in 2015/16 to look at how well organisations worked together to prevent child sexual exploitation, to protect and support victims, and prosecute perpetrators.
Telford was one of the first places in the country to launch prosecutions for child sexual exploitation. And prosecutions continue. We do a lot of work in schools and colleges to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and encourage anyone to report anything suspicious. No one deserves to be a victim of child sexual exploitation. One victim is one too many. We must all do all we can to prevent it.
There can be no hiding place for perpetrators of child sexual exploitation. Child sexual exploitation is a vile and evil crime. It has no place in Telford or anywhere in a civilised society.
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.