We wanted to make sure the council and partner organisations, like the police and health, had an opportunity to learn more about what could be done to keep children and young people safe from exploitation. So, because of previous failings, Telford & Wrekin Council commissioned and funded our own independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in 2018.
The council wanted as much independence as possible so the inquiry could do its work properly. We worked with a commissioning body and survivors of child sexual exploitation who formed a survivors committee, alongside people who had relevant experiences. Together they appointed Tom Crowther QC, a former High Court Judge, to chair the independent inquiry. The survivors committee also helped prepare the terms of reference for the inquiry.
The independent inquiry spoke to 170 people and received more than 1.25 million pages of documentary evidence. After three years, impacted by the Covid pandemic, it published its full report on 12 July 2022.
The report found areas where more could have been done over the last three decades to support victims and survivors and their families by both the council, the police and other partner organisations.
The report also acknowledged the significant and transformational improvements made by Telford & Wrekin Council since 2016.
When the inquiry’s report was published the council leader apologised on behalf of the authority to victims and survivors for all the pain and suffering that took place. He also committed to funding the team of dedicated professionals at the forefront of the council’s response to tackling child sexual exploitation for as long as he is leader.
The independent inquiry made 47 recommendations overall. The council accepted all of our recommendations straight away and have put together a strategic implementation group made up of people with lived experience of child sexual exploitation as well as representatives from the council and its partners.
We have developed an action plan and have appointed Sarah Messenger as an independent chair and facilitator to support the implementation of the recommendations.
More information about the independent inquiry
In September 2022, Home Office minister, Amanda Solloway, noted the council’s progress in looking after and protecting young people. She said:
“Services protecting vulnerable children in Telford and Wrekin have been transformed since 2016, thanks to the work of committed social workers and senior leaders.”