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West Midlands council calls on Whitehall for child sexual abuse inquiry

A West Midlands council leader has called on the Home Office to conduct an independent investigation into child sex exploitation after a series of shocking allegations came to light in recent days.

Telford and Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies urged Whitehall to step in to ensure any review is fully independent and will not come under question.

It follows reports in the Sunday Mirror claiming that up to 1,000 children in Telford could have been the target of exploitation.

Davies’ backing comes in the wake of calls from Telford MP Lucy Allan, who also urged the government to step in and conduct an investigation into what has been happening in the Shropshire town.

The council conducted its own review in 2015, which found that more than 1,600 children had been targeted in a 6-year period and prompted a string of resignations including the previous council leader and the chief executive.

Davies said the stories revealed in the original review and in the recent report were “horrific” but called on a largescale government investigation.

“The way forward must now be a government commissioned independent inquiry, with terms of reference set by government – any such inquiry commissioned by local agencies like the Council or police could be seen as not being impartial – this must have complete independence,” he explained.

“We have nothing to hide and have been transparent throughout – since I became leader 2 years ago, we have been inspected by OFSTED on this issue and been visited by the Home Office and Department of Education.

“However, I feel we must do everything possible to know and learn further from what happened in the period before Operation Chalice jailed seven men for vile crimes against children.”

He went on to say that the actions of the council, police and other authorities in the area had “dramatically” changed but that he would welcome any new information that could be attained through outside investigation.

Seven men were jailed in 2012, as part of West Mercia Police's Operation Chalice, the gang was thought to have targeted up to 100 young girls.

Top image: Gordon Cragg

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