AN inquiry into Telford child sex abuse has revealed that more than 1,000 girls were abused as obvious evidence was ignored for generations, a media report has said.
The report also revealed that agencies dismissed reports of child exploitation as ‘child prostitution’ initially and those incidents were not probed because of race concerns, the BBC reported.
The inquiry was launched after the Sunday Mirror revealed gangs had been abusing girls in the town since the 1980s.
Chairman of the inquiry Tom Crowther QC said the abuse went unchecked for decades and has given 47 recommendations for improvement by the agencies involved.
“The overwhelming theme of the evidence has been the appalling suffering of generations of children caused by the utter cruelty of those who committed child sexual exploitation. Victims and survivors repeatedly told the inquiry how, when they were children, adult men worked to gain their trust before ruthlessly betraying that trust, treating them as sexual objects or commodities,” Crowther was quoted as saying by the BBC.
“Countless children were sexually assaulted and raped. They were deliberately humiliated and degraded. They were shared and trafficked. They were subjected to violence and their families were threatened.”
Telford and Wrekin accepted the Inquiry’s recommendations and have agreed to deliver all improvements. Earlier, West Mercia Police, Telford & Wrekin Council apologised ‘unequivocally’ for past events.
According to the report, even after an investigation leading to seven men being jailed for child sex crimes West Mercia Police and Telford & Wrekin Council scaled down their specialist teams to save money.
Seven men were jailed in 2012, including two Telford brothers, following Operation Chalice, an investigation into child sexual exploitation.
A court heard the brothers sexually abused, trafficked and prostituted, or tried to prostitute, four teenagers between March 2008 and December 2009.
Children were exploited through a “boyfriend” model, where a child would meet a man, who would persuade them to become his girlfriend.
Then perpetrators would begin giving them lifts and buying them food, alcohol or cigarettes which led to the children becoming involved in sexual activity with the men, the report revealed.
It further said that abusers did not use contraception, pregnancies were expected to be terminated, and some survivors went on to bear children.
The report references the case of Lucy Lowe, 16, who died along with her 17-year-old sister and mother in a house fire started by Azhar Ali Mehmood, 26, the father of her daughter. She had become pregnant at 14 to Mehmood.
Crowther said he looked back as far as 1989 to draw his conclusions but had heard from victims exploited as long ago as the 1970s.
He also recommended the formation of a joint review team to publish an annual report on child abuse in Telford.
Responding to the report, a government spokesperson said: “The scale of abuse carried out in Telford and Wrekin was appalling. Vulnerable children were let down by those who should have protected them, including the police, social care, and health services. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families whose bravery throughout this inquiry has been commendable.
“Public bodies, their leaders, and frontline professionals must be unafraid of confronting criminality, including child abuse, no matter the race, ethnicity, religion, or other characteristics of perpetrators or their victims.”
The spokesperson added that the government is determined that previous mistakes must never be repeated and we will not hesitate to take further national action if required.