Shropshire Council statement on Independent Inquiry Telford Child Sexual Exploitation
Child Sexual Exploitation is a horrific crime which must be rooted out at every opportunity.
The Inquiry has shown how this has ruined many young lives of its victims over a period of nearly 35 years and that opportunities to prevent this were missed. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families who must live with the impact of this crime and ensure they get the support they need.
The crimes that the inquiry has focused on in the neighbouring authority of Telford & Wrekin, are happening right across the country.
Thankfully awareness of this crime is now far greater. In Shropshire, we now have much stronger safeguards in place to help partners and the community identify, intervene and protect those at risk.
Practice among the very broad range of partners involved in protecting children at risk of sexual and other exploitation is now very different from that in 1989, the start of the period covered by the Inquiry but remains a challenge for all involved in children’s safeguarding.
Shropshire Council has voluntarily supported the Inquiry, which was commissioned by Telford & Wrekin Council. This has included providing significant documentary evidence it has requested, as well as contacting and helping put the inquiry in touch with a number of key former Shropshire County Council employees who have then given evidence to the Inquiry.
For clarity, since 1998 responsibility for children’s social care in Telford has been the responsibility of Telford & Wrekin Council and prior to that was the responsibility of Shropshire County Council, which ceased to exist in 2009 when the new unitary Shropshire Council was created.
Like all authorities involved in looking after children, the inquiry’s findings provide important learning and an in-depth review of practice.
In recent years, the approach to tackling child sexual and other forms of exploitation has changed enormously. The council set up a multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation Panel to help prevent and respond to Child Sexual Exploitation. This Panel has now evolved to tackle all forms of exploitation.
Tackling exploitation is a key priority for the Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership and much has been done by a range of agencies to further improve our response to exploitation in Shropshire.
Our child exploitation pathway was reviewed in 2021 to further help our frontline staff find the information they need as quickly as possible when they are working with children at risk of or experiencing exploitation. OFSTED inspected our children’s services in 2022 and rated our service as good, stating that: “children benefit from effective multi agency working to identify those who are vulnerable to exploitation or are being exploited.”
Everyone has a part to play in tackling this terrible crime: from our staff, our partners and professionals to the wider community. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and this is best achieved by partners working closely together.
We continue to work as part of Shropshire Safeguarding Community Partnership and to raise awareness of all forms of exploitation including Child Sexual Exploitation.
If anyone is concerned about or thinks a child or young person is at risk of exploitation, they should contact one of these numbers:
- Report this anonymously by contacting CrimeStoppers UK on 0800 555 111.
- Call Shropshire Council’s First Point of Contact team on 0345 678 9021. This is a 24 hour number.
- Call the police on 101. If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 999.
In the coming days, we will be taking time to read the report 1,249 pages in detail and consider its recommendations and the learning that we take from this to ensure we and partners are doing all we can to prevent exploitation of young people in Shropshire.