Our response to the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford
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We are making an unequivocal apology to victims and survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford for past failings by the force.
This evening the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Telford (IITCSE) is published. The Inquiry, which was commissioned by Telford and Wrekin Council in April 2018, found that there were significant failings by public services, including West Mercia Police, in the handling of child sexual exploitation in the borough dating back to the mid-90s.
Speaking on behalf of West Mercia Police, Assistant Chief Constable Richard Cooper, said: “I would like to say sorry. Sorry to the survivors and all those affected by child sexual exploitation in Telford. While there were no findings of corruption, our actions fell far short of the help and protection you should have had from us, it was unacceptable, we let you down. It is important we now take time to reflect critically and carefully on the content of the report and the recommendations that have been made.
“Whilst we are in a different place now there are no excuses for the past. What I can give you are assurances that we have made vast improvements to the way we tackle these crimes, but we cannot and will not stop there. We’re absolutely committed to continually looking to improve our approach.
“We now have teams dedicated to preventing and tackling child exploitation. We also have an Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team (OCSET) to ensure that we are targeting offenders both online and in person. The officers in these teams work incredibly hard, day in day out, to actively root out perpetrators and put them before the courts as well as preventing offending.
“The way we work with other agencies has evolved and we now work better together so that we can act quickly to safeguard children at risk of being targeted and prevent harm whenever we can.
"When the worst does happen and a child is harmed, or if someone reaches out about an offence that happened some time ago, we have specially trained officers who understand the complex and sensitive nature of these issues and can ensure the right and necessary support is there.
“Some years ago we have introduced exploitation and vulnerability trainers delivering training to those in jobs and roles that may be able to spot the signs of offences such as council workers, teachers, hotel staff and taxi drivers which has been invaluable.
“We want people who are, or think they are, being exploited or are concerned about child sexual exploitation to report this to us. We will listen and we will act on any information given to us.”
You can read more about the inquiry and the full report on the IITCSE website.