Next steps to set up child sexual exploitation inquiry
An advisory body of six councillors is to meet to consider how best to set up a commissioning body which will be tasked with procuring an independent chair to lead the inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford and Wrekin.
The decision to hold an inquiry was supported by Full Council on April 10. Telford & Wrekin Council has set aside an initial allocation of £350,000 to pay for it.
This was followed by Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet agreeing this double independent process for the inquiry in order to maximise public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the inquiry.
The first meeting of the Advisory Body takes place on Tuesday May 22 at 6pm in Addenbrooke House where members will be asked to comment on suggested processes to appoint the commissioning body and the specification/ detail of what it would be expected to do,.
This specification outlines the purpose and objective of the inquiry, details the proposed process for selecting the commissioning body and proposes a specification for the work, addressing important issues like the requirements of an independent chair and how the terms of reference will be finalised.
The commission is being undertaken by Telford & Wrekin Council’s Monitoring Officer Jonathan Eatough on behalf of the Advisory Panel.
Mr Eatough said: “There is a strong desire for the inquiry to be up and running as soon as possible and we are doing that but we have to balance speed against ensuring a totally independent process that involves local people, even at this early stage, to ensure that the public have confidence in the inquiry process.
“Appointing a commissioning body to start initial work on the inquiry and procures an independent chair, who has a final say on the terms of reference, removes it from council influence from this point forward.
“This is necessary to ensure that the inquiry is 100% independent from the Council.”
Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member Councillor Lee Carter said: "At the last cabinet we indicated that this first stage of the process would likely be concluded by end of May and I'm pleased that remains on target.
In addition, I know there continues to be lots of on-going engagement with survivors and other stakeholders to make sure they are aware of the process we are embarking upon. In addition, I also know that the Council teams responsible for tackling CSE are engaged in discussions with local organisations about how we can improve current arrangements for both prevention and support.
I'm confident that we continue to make good progress towards our aim of delivering an Inquiry that has the full confidence of survivors and their families
The six councillors who will sit on the Advisory Panel are Councillor Stephen Bentley (Con), Councillor Karen Blundell (LibDem/Ind), Councillor Nathan England (Lab), Councillor Tim Nelson (Con), Councillor Hilda Rhodes (Lab) and Councillor Peter Scott (Lib Dem/Ind).