Inquiry Reveals Child Sex Abuse in Telford Became “Generational”

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Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

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In April 2018, an independent inquiry was commissioned to investigate child sexual exploitation within the Borough of Telford and Wrekin. In 2022, the findings of this investigation were released, revealing significant failings on the part of Telford and Wrekin Council from as far back as 1989.

The report found that evidence of child sex crimes in Telford had been consistently ignored by local authorities and children were regularly blamed for the abuse they suffered. Horrifyingly, in some cases children were even identified as “child prostitutes” and were subsequently prosecuted. It was found that more than 1,000 girls, as young as 11 had been abused, and the agencies had blamed those children for all of the abuse. The Inquiry stated that the perpetrators were never blamed and the exploitation was not investigated due to “nervousness about race”.

We find it especially disturbing how long this pattern of abuse went on for, and that some agencies appear to have been actively discouraged from taking action. This is highlighted in the report as it describes exploitation in the area becoming “generational”, with perpetrators normalising the abuse whilst victims and survivors came to see it as “inevitable”.

The impact of ongoing exploitation combined with a lack of support cannot be understated and we know that this is not the first report to show a pattern of abuse and inactivity by child protection agencies.

As Abuse Lawyers, we are horrified by the findings of the inquiry into child sexual abuse in Telford and we sincerely hope the recommendations put forward in the report are acted on as a matter of urgency.

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What Were the Inquiry’s key Findings?

After speaking to survivors of child sexual abuse in Telford, the inquiry found that children were regularly subjected to ongoing violence and “lived in fear” as their families were frequently threatened.

The report also described how perpetrators of the abuse would use the “boyfriend model” to take advantage of young vulnerable girls. This would involve giving them lifts and buying them food and alcohol before demanding sexual “favours” as repayment. Along with this, those 1,000 girls who had been abused were subjected to being gang-raped, trafficked, beaten, abused, sold for sex – and even held at gunpoint.

Chairman Tom Crowther QC stated that the abuse had been thriving and unchecked for decades, and that the report had 47 recommendations for improvement for all child protection agencies involved.

In addition to the actions of the offenders, the report also commented on the continued lack of response from local authorities. Particularly concerning is the fact that social workers and teachers were actively discouraged from reporting abuse without “concrete proof”.

There was also a widespread lack of police action which led to offenders becoming “emboldened” by the fact that they were not likely to face consequences. We find the insufficient response of local authorities in these cases deeply concerning, especially given that sexual exploitation remains an issue within the area of Telford and in other areas of the UK.

Mr Crowther’s report said that in the first six months of 2020, the Police received 172 referrals that related to sexual exploitation. The Inquiry took three years to complete, and looked at allegations from 1989, to the present day. In comparison to the 2020 statistics, it had increased by 54% since 2019. This makes it even more vital that immediate and effective action is taken to ensure that support is available for survivors of child sexual abuse and that perpetrators face appropriate repercussions.

What Needs to Happen Next?

After the results of the inquiry were published, Telford and Wrekin Council issued a widespread apology. But recent police evidence of an “unacceptable” and “offensive” attitude towards victims of child sexual abuse in Telford suggests there is still significant work to be done.

In the report, it was recommended that a joint review team should be formed to publish an annual review on child abuse in Telford. We would encourage Telford and Wrekin Council to implement this recommendation as soon as possible to prevent more young people suffering abuse from going under the radar.

The report also referenced children who had been prosecuted for “child prostitution” and recommended that their convictions should be completely removed.

We hope that Telford and Wrekin Council and its associated child protection agencies accept the recommendations put forward in this report and implement change to help prevent this kind of exploitation from continuing.

To read the list of full recommendations for Telford and Wrekin, you can find them here.

We know that speaking up about experiences with abuse can be extremely difficult. If you’ve suffered abuse as a child, we could help you get access to support and compensation.

Our Abuse Law team have experience in dealing with cases of sexual exploitation and we’ll handle your case with the sensitivity it requires. Get in touch with our experienced Abuse Law team .

How Simpson Millar Can Help People who have Suffered Abuse

If you have sadly endured physical, sexual or psychological injury from the abuse as a child, within a children’s home or other institution, it can be extremely hard to come to terms with what has happened to you. When you’re ready to talk about your experiences, we’re ready to advise you on what steps you can take—and we can be there every step of the way.

Our Abuse Team has an extensive experience representing survivors of child abuse, including people who were abused in children’s homes that are both privately run, and run by Local Authorities. We also have experience dealing with instances of non-recent abuse, if you were abused in your childhood. If you would like to speak confidentially to a member of our team, please call us on 0808 239 1287.

References:

IITCSE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iitcse.com/

BBC News. (2022, June 17). Council issues update on how it's tackling child sexual exploitation. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-61983584

Shropshire Star. (2023, July 6). Council issues update on how it's tackling child sexual exploitation. Retrieved from https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2023/07/06/council-issues-update-on-how-its-tackling-child-sexual-exploitation/

Simpson Millar. (n.d.). Rotherham abuse: Learning from past failings to safeguard tomorrow's survivors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/abuse-claims/rotherham-abuse-learning-from-past-failings-to-safeguard-tomorrows-survivors/

ITV News. (2022, July 12). Why did Telford inquiry take 30 years and what has changed? Retrieved from https://www.itv.com/news/central/2022-07-12/why-did-telford-inquiry-take-30-years-and-what-has-changed

Independent. (n.d.). Telford child abuse: Asian gangs 'targeted 1,000 girls' in 'Britain's biggest grooming scandal'. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/telford-child-asian-west-mercia-police-children-b2121485.html

ITV News. (2022, July 12). In full: Police and council apologise to Telford child sex abuse victims. Retrieved from https://www.itv.com/news/central/2022-07-12/in-full-police-and-council-apologise-to-telford-child-sex-abuse-victims

Kate Hall

Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Kate works as a Solicitor in our Abuse Claims Department.

After completing her education at Leeds Beckett University in 2018, Kate decided to specialise in Abuse Claims. Within this department, she has gained experience dealing with Civil Claims against various institutions including local authorities, public schools, religious institutions and charitable organisations. This includes the Manchester Homes 2 Group Action and the claims against Manchester City Council for abuse at St Anne’s School. Kate has also successfully navigated claims through the Lambeth and Manchester City Redress Schemes.

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