Cabinet update on tackling child sexual exploitation together
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet is to be asked to approve a number of measures to help further tackle and prevent child sexual exploitation in the borough.
This follows the national expert Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, led by author of the Rotherham Inquiry Prof Alexis Jay, saying its Truth Project is coming to Telford to hear from victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the borough to recount their experiences.
The Council had earlier this month asked IICSA to bring forward its inquiry into organised sexual exploitation and to make this a Telford specific inquiry.
IICSA’s secretary John O’Brien has now responded saying: “We have reviewed the reports and other papers sent to us by Telford & Wrekin Council.
“They show that the Council is taking steps to address child sexual exploitation. In our investigation into child sexual exploitation by organised networks, we are currently looking at documents gathered from institutions within a number of different local authority areas.
“We will consider whether we need further information from Telford and Wrekin Council as we plan for the next phase of this investigation."
The report also asks Cabinet to recognise that the Truth Project should first complete before IICSA takes any decision on a Telford specific investigation and after this a fully informed decision on a local inquiry can be made.
The report says this decision must be informed by an independent advisor, who will look at the work by all partners in stopping child sexual exploitation in the borough and the scope and effect of any future local inquiry.
The report makes a number of other recommendations including appointing a co-ordinator to ensure the most effective liaison between the authority and the IICSA’s Truth Project to support its work in Telford which starts next month.
They will also be asked to use the council’s Capacity Fund to commission partners to provide ongoing support for victims and survivors, both generally and for those who come forward to talk to the Truth Project.
It is also asks that the NWG Network, which supports professionals tackling the issues of child sexual exploitation, works with the council’s Children Abused Through Exploitation team to undertake a health check of existing partnership arrangements in the borough.
The Council’s cabinet meets tomorrow night (Thu 29th) at the Park Inn Hotel in Telford to discuss the report looking at how the borough is tackling child sexual exploitation and the measures that the Council has taken since Operation Chalice to tackle and prevent child sexual exploitation.
This has included an independent review in 2014, a scrutiny review in 2016 and an inspection by OFSTED in 2016. It also gives facts about the crime in Telford following recent news reports which have focused on a number of historic and shocking cases of child sexual exploitation.
Council leader Shaun Davies said: “We welcome the fact that the national expert independent inquiry’s Truth Project is coming to Telford – it vital that victims have their voices heard and this is the best way to ensure this happens and as quickly as possible.
“I urge people take time to listen to the facts about child sexual exploitation in our borough.
“This is a vile and evil crime and we and our partners in police, health and other agencies are doing all we can to tackle and prevent this.
“We accept and regret that, as in every major town and city in the country 10 to 20 years ago, practice here was not as it should be – but things have now changed with OFSTED in their most recent report describing the Council as a ‘champion on this important issue’ with ‘strong’ services.
“Child Sexual Exploitation is everyone’s business; we all need to look out for our children and look out for the signs and tell someone.”
The expected Timetable for the Truth project’s work in Telford is:
• 11/12 April: Introductory meeting with stakeholders and visits to prospective venues
• 24 April: Stakeholder Engagement Event
• W/c 21 May and w/c 4 June: IICSA to deliver the Telford Will Be Heard project with support from council and partner agencies
An extraordinary meeting of Telford & Wrekin’s Full Council to discuss the issue will also take place on Tuesday 10th April.