Child sexual exploitation review welcomed by Telford & Wrekin Council

Telford & Wrekin Council said today it welcomed a national review into child sexual exploitation coming to Shropshire.

The authority was responding to claims that as many as 1,000 children may have been abused in the town over the last 40 years.

Spokesman Nigel Newman said: "It’s an issue right across the UK and has been for a long time. Anyone who says otherwise is burying their head in the sand.

"Telford will be covered by the national CSE review by Alexis Jay, who led the Rotherham inquiry. We welcome this review coming to Telford. We will welcome sharing what we have learned yourselves and from many other recent cases such as those in Blackburn, Bristol, Oxford and Newcastle.”

The issue of CSE came to light as part of Operation Chalice, a police inquiry that resulted in the conviction of seven men who were jailed for a total of 49 years for running a child sex ring in the town in 2013. The investigation said more than 100 victims could have been abused between 2007 and 2009.

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Assistant chief constable for West Mercia Police, Martin Evans, said: "The whole issue of offending against children has risen in profile as a result of a number of high profile cases, including Operation Chalice in 2013.

"This was one of the first national complex critical investigations into grooming offences. It centred on historic offending in Telford and Wrekin and ultimately resulted in seven men being jailed for a total of 49 years.

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"Over the subsequent years we have continuously focused on this area, whilst working very closely with our communities to ensure there is confidence to report issues people become aware of.”

He said a Home Office inspection and Ofsted inspection had both praised the partner agencies in Telford for working so positively together to tackle the issue of CSE.”

He added: "We would strongly advise anyone concerned about CSE in Telford to visit www.tell-someone.org to find out more about recognising the signs and how to get help and advice.”

Meanwhile, West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour has backed calls for an urgent cross-party public inquiry into the issue.

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She said: "I was assured that action was being taken, but nearly 18 months on, it appears from the latest revelations that the situation is even worse than before.

"The time for tough talk and promises is over. We need to rally behind the police. Do they need more resources or more staff to ensure this scourge of society feel the full wrath of the law?

"If the answer is yes, then let’s make sure the Government gives them what they require.

"Our priority should always be protecting innocent people and victims, and bringing the full force of the law down onto these perpetrators.

"That means handing out proper sentences which befit these ghastly crimes, and which act as a deterrent to potential sexual predators.

"People’s lives are much more important than spending money on government vanity projects.”

Operation Chalice

Seven men were jailed in 2013 for child prostitution in the town after the Operation Chalice investigation, however fresh revelations highlight abuse may have still being going on just a couple of months ago.

Ms Seymour and West Mercia Police have urged any other victims out there to come forward.

Ms Seymour added: "It is outrageous and upsetting that, in this day and age, we seem incapable of doing more to protect the victims of sexual abuse, and to expose the darkest side of our society. I would urge anyone who can help in any way, to contact their local police.”

"It’s time for politicians and organisations to put this issue right at the top of the agenda, and show we are really serious about bringing these predators to justice.”

"The whole issue of offending against children has risen in profile as a result of a number of high profile cases, including Operation Chalice in 2013.

"This was one of the first national complex critical investigations into grooming offences. It centred on historic offending in Telford and Wrekin and ultimately resulted in seven men being jailed for a total of 49 years.

"Over the subsequent years we have continuously focused on this area, whilst working very closely with our communities to ensure there is confidence to report issues people become aware of.

"We work alongside health and local authority professionals as the Community Safety Partnership, which my local Commander, Superintendent Tom Harding chairs. CSE is the partnership’s number one priority.

"Last year government officials from the Home Office spent time visiting the area and personally paid thanks to the commitment of the staff working to protect young people at risk from sexual exploitation.

"They also recognised the strong working partnership ethos between the police, social workers and health professionals.

"The positive focus of Superintendent Harding and his team on achieving the best outcomes for victims and the force’s use of intelligence to identify risk were also highlighted.

"This Home Office inspection and the Ofsted inspection have both praised the partner agencies in Telford for working so positively together to tackle the issue of CSE.

Police and council bosses have reiterated their commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation in Telford.

Resources

West Mercia Police said extra resources were now dedicated to tackling the crime, while Telford & Wrekin Council said tackling CSE remained a "top priority”.

The comments come after a national newspaper claimed up to 1,000 youngsters could have been abused in the town since the 1980s.

In the wake of the claims, Telford MP Lucy Allan has renewed her call for an inquiry into the issue.

Ms Allan called the reports "shocking”. "There must now be an independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford so that our community can have absolute confidence in the authorities,” she said.

for Telford and Wrekin Council, said: "While we can’t comment on the detail of individual cases, child sexual exploitation is a vile, evil crime.

"It’s an issue right across the UK and has been for a long time. Anyone who says otherwise is burying their head in the sand.

"Telford will be covered by the national CSE review by Alexis Jay, who led the Rotherham inquiry. We welcome this review coming to Telford.

"We will welcome sharing what we have learned yourselves and from many other recent cases such as those in Blackburn, Bristol, Oxford and Newcastle.

"All agencies in the borough continue to work very closely together and we must leave no stone unturned – this remains our top priority. Our approach to CSE is now very different from 10 – 20 years ago. We have learned lots of lessons and made many changes to our practices, which we keep under constant review.”

He added: "For any victim to come forward requires huge courage, and we are committed to offering them our full support and help.

"If anyone is aware of a child at risk, they should contact West Mercia Police on 101 in the first instance.”

Assistant chief constable for West Mercia Police, Martin Evans, said the latest claims were not new but the force remained committed to tackling the crime. Officer numbers have already in increased, and extra resources are being made available, he said.

He added: "Police in Telford take all reports of child sexual exploitation, the systematic emotional, physical and psychological abuse of young people, and grooming, extremely seriously.

"We have not only increased officer numbers to tackle this type of offending, but use all of our resources and technology available to prosecute anyone who sexually offends against children whether that offending took place today, yesterday or decades ago.”




Date: 12 March 2018 | Source: Shropshire Star

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