Telford council approves child abuse inquiry

12 Apr 18

An independent council-led inquiry into child sex abuse in Telford will begin, despite calls on central government to lead a probe.

At an emergency full council meeting on Tuesday a unanimous decision was taken to approve a non-statutory independent inquiry into all aspects of historical and current instances of child exploitation within the borough.

The proposal for the council-led inquiry was proposed by opposition Conservative councillors.

Lee Carter, cabinet member for Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “The report to cabinet next week will set out what needs to be done to set a council inquiry up.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that we have something in place that gets the answers to the questions people have been asking.”

Councillors had previously asked for a government-led inquiry.

There were concerns that a non-statutory council-led inquiry will not give be as effective as people are not obliged to take part in the inquiry.

A spokesperson for Telford council told PF that a council-led inquiry “cannot compel” people to give evidence.

The motion from the full-council meeting said: “This meeting also requests the Cabinet to instruct council officers to commission such an inquiry immediately.

“This meeting also notes that such a non-statutory inquiry will allow the opportunity for victims and survivors to give evidence in private and free from other pressures or interference.

“Such arrangements will hopefully also encourage other victims to come forward.”

Information about which organisations will be investigated will be contained in the report due to be published early next week.

On Monday, Lucy Allan, Conservative MP for Telford, wrote an open letter to the council urging them to support the local inquiry.

In it she said “the time to act is now”, adding: “Local people elected us and gave us responsibility.

“People put their trust in us to represent them, not the Home Office officials or council officers; it’s time to take on that responsibility.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The government launched the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to get to the truth, expose what has gone wrong and learn lessons for the future.

“This includes institutional responses to child sexual exploitation by organised networks, such as those in Telford.”

The public inquiry, which is chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, will also look at specific instances in places like Devon, Cornwall, Oxford, Rochdale and Rotherham.

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