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How Telford is dealing with child sexual exploitation in Telford

Telford & Wrekin Council commissioned law firm Eversheds Sutherland as the Commissioning Body for the independent inquiry.


Independent inquiry report

The Chair and Commissioning Body have confirmed their report into child sexual exploitation will be published on Tuesday 12 July 2022 at 5pm.

Visit The Independent Inquiry Telford Child Sexual Exploitation website to view the report

The content of the report may have significant impact on the health and well-being of a number of people who have contributed to the inquiry and others.

Support services

Those people who are currently employed by statutory safeguarding services will be able to access their employer’s confidential support services.

For anyone else who may be affected by the contents of the report, Telford & Wrekin Council has funded a confidential and independent support service from Base 25. This is the organisation that has been available to provide confidential support during the inquiry’s work.

Please use the contact details below to access the independent support from Base 25, quoting the code ‘IITCSE2022’.

Telephone: 01902 572 040
Mobile: 07495 266 899
Text: 07495 266 899
Email: empower@base25.hush.com


The implementation of recommendations from the independent inquiry

Cabinet has approved a report setting out progress against the agreed recommendations by the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation.

The report highlights the arrangements made that will make sure all organisations meet their responsibilities and confirms an independent chair will oversee the work and three independent lived experience consultees will ensure the voices of victims and survivors are heard.



FAQs

The independent inquiry, that published its report into child sexual exploitation highlights the pain and distress victims and survivors have gone through. 

I want to thank them for sharing their experiences with the inquiry. Their tenacity and resilience in speaking up is extraordinary. 

We are deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that has been caused.

I also want to thank The Sunday Mirror and Geraldine McKelvie for shining a light on child sexual exploitation in Telford and supporting the victims and survivors tell their personal and harrowing stories.

Additionally we acknowledge the hard work of the Inquiry Chair, Tom Crowther QC, and his team who worked on the inquiry. 

The report, commissioned by the council, dates back to 1989 and it heard evidence dating back to the 1970s, in 1989 I was 3 years of age.

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I am so proud to come from Telford. 

For me, it was a wonderful place to grow up. However, it clearly wasn’t the same for many children and young people of my generation and generations before and generations after. And this brings us great sadness.

As a Telford Dad now and a corporate parent, with responsibility for those children and young people who are in our care, I’m more determined than ever to make this a safe and happy place for future generations. 

The report has found areas where more could have been done over the last three decades to support victims and survivors and their families. 

The chair has noted our progress since 2016. In his video statement, also released on Tuesday, Tom Crowther stated:

‘I do consider today the key organisations responsible for addressing child sexual exploitation in Telford, the council and the police, have in place properly resourced, dedicated and professional teams that are well equipped to both identify child sexual exploitation risk areas and to help children who are being exploited.’

Even though the inquiry acknowledges we have made significant and transformational improvements since 2016, and the inquiry specifically states that services today are good, we fully accept and will act on all of the inquiry’s recommendations in full. 

It is for all of us, every elected member, every council officer, every partner to make sure these recommendations are fully implemented. 

I will be shortly speaking to the Conservative Leader Councillor Andrew Eade and Liberal Democratic Leader Councillor Bill Tomlinson, as well as the Police Crime Commissioner John Campion about how we can work together to take the recommendations forward.

One early concern that I have read about from victims and survivors is the funding of the CATE team  - the team of dedicated professionals who are at the forefront of our response to tackling child sexual exploitation, who are commended throughout by the inquiry. The report proposes we make sure that team is properly funded for the next five years. 

I make a personal commitment that for as long as we are running the council, that funding will be protected, not just for the next five years but beyond. 

I am truly humbled and thankful in equal measure that survivors Holly Archer and Scarlett Jones have agreed to be part of our implementing process moving forward. 

Working together we will co-design our response to the inquiry’s recommendations, to make sure we are doing the very best we can for those people who need us the most.

I would like to publically thank Scarlett and Holly for holding us to account and for agreeing to be part of our journey moving forward.

Together, all of us, can ensure that we build a future that we can be proud about, a future that ensures that our children, our grandchildren, now and generations to come, are safe and happy in Telford and share the experiences I did as a child growing up here in Telford and Wrekin.

The short answer is that we commissioned an Independent inquiry to make sure that the Council and other organisations such as the Police and the NHS had an opportunity to learn what more could be done to keep the children and young people of Telford and Wrekin safe from exploitation.

There is a longer answer though. Following the publication of her report, in 2013, into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, Professor Alexis Jay was asked by the government to chair the national Independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). In 2015, there was an indication that IICSA would come to Telford to explore issues relating to exploitation. In 2018, the government confirmed to the Council that the national IICSA inquiry would not be visiting Telford so the Council commissioned a local inquiry, carried out by a judge to ensure that it was independent.

The Council has always said an inquiry was needed. The reason that the Council wanted this to be done through the national IICSA was because that inquiry had legal powers to compel organisations and individuals to give evidence in a way that a locally-arranged inquiry does not. If people refused to speak to IICSA, they would be committing a criminal offence.

The local inquiry arranged by the Council could only compel Council employees to give evidence. Everybody else could choose whether or not they wanted to speak to the local inquiry which meant that the ability of the inquiry to take a good look at a wide range of matters might have been hampered. The reasons this mattered are:

  • Many of the issues that were raised in 2018 focused on failings by “Telford authorities” – in many cases, the issues referred to did not relate to Council services and, therefore, it was important to the Council that any inquiry had the powers needed to explore and investigate the actions of other organisations.
  • As the review went back to 1989, and Telford and Wrekin Council was only created in 1998, some witnesses and documentation would have to be provided by Shropshire Council.
  • Some witnesses would have given evidence to other inquiries, such as the Truth Project which visited Telford and gathered testimony from victims, survivors and their families. They may not have wanted to give evidence to multiple different inquiries.

From what the Chair of the Independent inquiry has said, however, we do not believe that his work was limited by the nature of the locally arranged inquiry and we would like to thank everyone who assisted the inquiry by giving evidence.

When arranging the inquiry, the Council wanted to use a model that provided as much independence as possible to the Chair and his team. Having looked at various locally-arranged inquiries across the country, the Council was the first to use a model which provided “double independence”. This led to the Council seeking a ‘Commissioning Body’ whose role was to source a suitably qualified Chair and to support that Chair in their work. In January 2019, the Council appointed Eversheds Sutherland, an international law firm, as the Commissioning Body.

The Commissioning Body worked with the local Survivors’ Committee to appoint a Chair. The Commissioning Body and the Survivors’ Committee considered a number of Chairs and, in June 2019, Tom Crowther QC, a judge, was appointed as the Chair of the Independent inquiry.

The Survivors’ Committee also helped prepare the Terms of Reference for the inquiry and they were open to public consultation in June 2019 before being agreed in July 2019.

Since then, Eversheds Sutherland have supported the Chair in his work with the Council’s only role being to provide documents, witness evidence and a corporate submission, like any other organisation.

The role of the Chair was to decide how the inquiry was going to investigate the issues within the Terms of Reference and also to supervise the running of the inquiry. He was responsible for gathering the evidence, writing the report, making findings of fact and making relevant recommendations for the future. The Chair does not have the power to make any findings of civil or criminal liability, nor can he award any compensation.

The role of the Commissioning Body was to carry out the day to day operation of the inquiry as directed by the Chair. This included things such as writing to witnesses and organisations to seek evidence and taking witness statements.

The Chair felt that he needed some additional expert advice and so an expert in social work practice and an expert in policing matters were also instructed to join the Chair in his work.

The Chair of the inquiry published his final report on Tuesday 12 July 2022. The report is available on the inquiry’s website.

Throughout the inquiry, the Chair has provided other regular updates which are also available.

The Council has always looked for opportunities to learn more about child sexual exploitation within Telford and Wrekin and how to tackle it, together with the Police.

As well as arranging the local inquiry, there have been a number of reviews of the Council’s response to child exploitation. In particular:-

  • In 2012 – the Council commissioned an independent ‘lessons learned’ review by NewStart Networks, a charitable organisation formed to support, and advise, local authorities in relation to child exploitation. This independent work included interviewing victims and survivors as well as people working in a number of other organisations and agencies. The Child Abuse through Sexual Exploitation (CATSE) Learning (2008-2013) report was published in October 2013.
  • In November 2014 – the councils Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee began a review of multi-agency working against child sexual exploitation. The purpose of this was to look at the recommendations in the Jay report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham and identify whether the Council needed to do anything to ensure the recommendations were acted upon in Telford too. This scrutiny review was completed in Spring 2016 and made 38 recommendations which were all accepted and have been acted upon.
  • In 2016 - a team of seven OFSTED inspectors looked at the Council’s safeguarding services for four weeks. They concluded the Council’s work on child sexual exploitation was ‘strong’ and said: "the local authority has been a champion for tackling this issue".
  • In 2018 – the Council asked the NWG Network, a national working group created to inform, educate and prevent child abuse and exploitation to review the arrangements the Council has in place to respond to child sexual exploitation. The Children Abused Through Exploitation (CATE) Team’s structure and work was thought to be “particularly impressive” in a November 2018 National Working Group review,137 which also found the CATE Team to be knowledgeable and with a broad skills set.

No. The Council has had sight of those parts of the report where there are criticisms of the Council’s actions. Every organisation and individual who faces criticism in the report has seen the parts containing the criticisms that relate to them through a process called ‘Maxwellisation’.

From the day it first arranged the inquiry, the Council has committed to acting upon every one of the recommendations. This means that, after it has received the Chair’s report, the Council will need some time to read it in full and then consider what needs to happen to act on each of the recommendations.

The Council will create an action plan in response to the recommendations and this will be reported to a Full Council meeting.

The Commissioning Body has been asked to review progress of the implementation of recommendations.

To provide support to people speaking to the inquiry, the Council funded an independent, confidential counselling services through Base 25. The Council has provided further funding to extend this support so that anybody who has been affected by the contents of the report, or the issues it relates to, can access emotional support and therapeutic counselling. Anyone wishing to access these services can contact Base 25, quoting IITCSE2022, using the following contact details:

Information relating to historic offences should be reported to West Mercia Police.

If you are concerned that you have been groomed or exploited by someone you can report this to Family Connect on 01952 385385. If you can, try to speak to a trusted member of staff at school or college or a parent/carer and let them know what is happening.

Report what you see or suspect:

Sadly, and terribly, child sexual exploitation happens today in every town in the country – this includes Telford. It is important that any concerns that you might have about the exploitation of a child or young person is shared with the Council or West Mercia Police. Reports can be made anonymously to Family Connect on 01952 385385 or by email at familyconnect@telford.gov.uk. The Council remains committed to investigating every report of child exploitation that it receives and providing information to the Police so that they can prosecute the perpetrators.

Last updated: 16/10/2022 16:23

  1. Introduction
  2. The facts
  3. Independent inquiry
  4. Report it
  5. News