1,000 ‘groom­ing vic­tims in one town’ Five deaths linked amid calls for in­quiry Now ex­perts fear it could be...

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Jemma Buck­ley

A Child-groom­ing scan­dal in a Shrop­shire town could be the worst the coun­try has ever seen. Up to 1,000 chil­dren could have fallen vic­tim to bru­tal sex gangs over a pe­riod of 40 years in Telford, it is be­lieved.

MPs called for an in­quiry last night af­ter new de­tails emerged about the po­ten­tial scale of abuse. It was also al­leged that re­ports of abuse had been mis­han­dled by the au­thor­i­ties – and that three mur­ders and two deaths could be linked to the scan­dal.

A 16-year-old girl, Lucy Lowe, was killed in 2000 along with her mother and sis­ter af­ter a 26-year- old man, who had got her preg­nant at 14, set fire to their house. He was jailed for mur­der but not sex crimes. Re­becca Wat­son, 13, who died in a car crash in 2002, was also be­ing abused, ac­cord­ing to a fam­ily mem­ber.

And her friend Vicky Round died fol­low­ing a drugs in­ci­dent af­ter a groom­ing gang al­legedly got her hooked on crack co­caine when she was 12.

‘Forty years of abuse’

MPs de­manded a full-scale in­quiry last night into what could be the worst child sex abuse scan­dal the coun­try has seen.

As many as 1,000 chil­dren could have fallen vic­tim to groom­ing gangs that op­er­ated in the shrop­shire town of Telford for more than 40 years.

While sex groom­ing rings in Rother­ham are thought to have tar­geted around 1,500 vic­tims, that was in a com­mu­nity of around 260,000. Telford’s pop­u­la­tion is just 170,000.

New de­tails emerged yes­ter­day about the scale of the scan­dal, which has al­legedly seen girls as young as 11 lured away from their fam­i­lies then drugged, beaten and raped.

The orig­i­nal po­lice probe in 2010 iden­ti­fied more than 100 po­ten­tial vic­tims, most of whom were young white girls, that had al­legedly been abused be­tween 2007 and 2009.

But that in­quiry – Op­er­a­tion Chal­ice – was closed af­ter seven Asian men were jailed in 2012 for a to­tal of 49 years for charges against four girls in­clud­ing rape, traf­fick­ing and pros­ti­tu­tion.

In 2013, Ahdel Ali, then 25 and Mubarek Ali, then 29, of Welling­ton, shrop­shire were sen­tenced to 18 and 14 years re­spec­tively.

Fol­low­ing their con­vic­tions, five other mem­bers of their gang changed their pleas to guilty. Mo­hammed Ali sul­tan, then 26, Tanveer Ahmed, then 40, Mahroof Khan, then 35, Mo­hammed Is­lam Choudhrey, then 53, and Mo­hammed You­nis, then 60, were each jailed for be­tween 30 months and seven years.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to a new in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the scale of the abuse is much greater than these seven men, has been go­ing on for longer and has been mis­han­dled by the au­thor­i­ties.

Yes­ter­day it was claimed that 12 vic­tims had now named more than 70 al­leged abusers, and that vi­o­lent rapes were still tak­ing place in Telford just months ago.

Ev­i­dence was al­legedly unearthed to show that lo­cal so­cial workers first knew of abuse in the 1990s, but po­lice took a decade be­fore launch­ing a probe.

Pre­vi­ously un­seen files ap­par­ently showed that coun­cil staff viewed abused and traf­ficked chil­dren as ‘pros­ti­tutes’, not vic­tims, and that the au­thor­i­ties had failed to keep de­tails of abusers from Asian com­mu­ni­ties for fear of ‘racism’.

Three mur­ders and two tragic deaths were also linked to the scan­dal, ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence seen by the sun­day Mir­ror. One 16year-old girl, Lucy Lowe, was killed in 2000 along with her mother and sis­ter af­ter her 26-year-old abuser, Azhar Ali Mehmood, set fire to their house.

An­other 13-year- old girl, Becky Wat­son, who died in a car ac­ci­dent, had al­ready suf­fered two years of abuse, it was claimed. Mean­while, one of her friends, Vicky Round, died aged 20 in a drugs in­ci­dent af­ter al­legedly get­ting hooked on crack co­caine by a groom­ing gang.

Last night, Telford’s Con­ser­va­tive MP, Lucy Al­lan, who has pre­vi­ously called for a Rother­ham- style in­quiry into the al­le­ga­tions, called the lat­est claims ‘ ex­tremely se­ri­ous and shock­ing’.

‘There must now be an independen­t in­quiry into child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in Telford so that our com­mu­nity can have ab­so­lute con­fi­dence in the au­thor­i­ties,’ she said.

Tory MP An­drew Brid­gen said last night he would also back an in­quiry into the scale of abuse in Telford. He said: ‘This could be 40 years of abuse. It ap­pears that the lessons from Rother­ham and else­where have not been learned. At the end of the day, po­ten­tially 1,000 young girls have been let down.’

Dino No­civ­elli, a spe­cial­ist child abuse solic­i­tor, said: ‘The sur­vivors de­serve an in­quiry. They need to know how abuse took place for so long and why so many per­pe­tra- tors have never been brought to jus­tice.’

The es­ti­mate of up to 1,0000 vic­tims was cal­cu­lated with the help of Pro­fes­sor Liz Kelly, from the Child and Woman Abuse stud­ies Unit at Lon­don Metropoli­tan Uni­ver­sity, who re­viewed ev­i­dence from the sun­day Mir­ror.

One 14- year- old, who was groomed and abused by pae­dophiles, told the news­pa­per she was forced to have sex with multiple men ‘night af­ter night’ in ‘dis­gust­ing take­aways and filthy houses.’

she said: ‘I hated what was hap­pen­ing and my abusers made my skin crawl, but I was told that if I said a word to any­one they’d come for my lit­tle sis­ters and tell my mum I was a pros­ti­tute.’

she said she was get­ting the morn­ing-af­ter pill from a lo­cal clinic twice a week but ‘no one asked any ques­tions’.

she also had two abor­tions af­ter fall­ing preg­nant and said she was raped just ‘hours’ af­ter her sec­ond ter­mi­na­tion. The girl said the ‘worst mo­ment’ was when she was drugged and gang-raped by five men just af­ter her 16th birth­day. The ring­leader al­legedly threat­ened to burn her house down if she re­ported the abuse.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion, sup­ported by doc­u­ments ob­tained un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, claimed that in 1981 two pae­dophiles be­gan tar­get­ing girls in a lo­cal chil­dren’s home and traf­ficked them around the coun­try for sex with hun­dreds of men.

In an­other case, a 47-year- old woman said she was groomed by an Asian man when she was 14. Af­ter hav­ing his baby, he al­legedly passed her round his friends and she was raped. she said a doc­tor told her she was men­tally ill and, de­spite re­port­ing the abuse to the coun­cil and her school, she does not think ac­tion was taken.

The ma­jor­ity of vic­tims were young white girls but some were teens from Asian com­mu­ni­ties.

In 2016, the Home Of­fice re­vealed Telford had the high­est rate of sex crimes against chil­dren in the UK.

An NsPCC spokesman said: ‘The scale of the prob­lem of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in Telford and Wrekin is deeply con­cern­ing – so it is vi­tal that ac­tion is taken to en­sure

cases like those which sparked op­er­a­tion Chal­ice are pre­vented in fu­ture.’

A spokesman for Telford and Wrekin Coun­cil said: ‘All agen­cies con­tinue to work very closely to­gether and this re­mains our top pri­or­ity.

‘our ap­proach to CSe is now very dif­fer­ent from 10-20 years ago. We have learned lots of lessons and are con­stantly on the look­out for in­di­ca­tors of CSe so that we can pass in­for­ma­tion on to po­lice and bring these evil crim­i­nals to jus­tice. In­deed, fur­ther cases are now com­ing to court.’ As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble for West Mer­cia Po­lice, Martin evans, said: ‘Po­lice in Telford take all re­ports of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, the sys­tem­atic emo­tional, phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse of young peo­ple, and groom­ing, ex­tremely se­ri­ously.

‘Tack­ling such hor­rific of­fences is the num­ber one pri­or­ity for po­lice in Telford and we have not only in­creased of­fi­cer num­bers to tackle this type of of­fend­ing, but use all of our re­sources and tech­nol­ogy avail­able to pros­e­cute any­one who sex­u­ally of­fends against chil­dren whether that of­fend­ing took place to­day, yes­ter­day or decades ago.’

Young peo­ple wor­ried about be­ing sex­u­ally ex­ploited can con­tact Child­line on 0800 1111 or www.child­

Vicky Round: ‘Hooked on crack aged 12’

Re­becca Wat­son: Abused be­fore death at 13

Lucy Lowe: Preg­nant at 14, mur­dered aged 16

Young girls on a night out VICKY Round was abused by a gang who got her hooked on crack co­caine by 12 and heroin by 14, it was claimed. Vicky, pic­tured, who was a friend of Becky Wat­son, died at 20. Her death was drug-re­lated. Her el­der sis­ter Emma...

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