THE £150K BETRAYAL OF CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS
HOW TELFORD REFUSED CASH TO SPOT ABUSERS
2010, devastating dedicated staff. One professional was so determined for the project to succeed she offered to work for free. Others feared the council was scared to upset minority groups, as a large number of perpetrators came from the Pakistani heritage community.
Our source said: “Many people were desperately upset when the bid was withdrawn. The grant was a complete gift. The excuse given by the council was money, but it wouldn’t have cost a penny, so that didn’t make sense.
“We feel they thought it would bring shame on Telford by admitting there was a problem but the same issues were being faced in other places, like Rotherham and Derby.
“We also feared they didn’t want to highlight certain ethnic minority groups as perpetrators, as multicultural relations in the town had historically been very good.”
The project was set to be named SITEMAP, which stood for Stopping Internal Trafficking and Exploitation Through Multi Agency Partnership.
It would have involved council staff visiting police, NHS and schools to help staff spot early signs of child sexual exploitation.
Staff would be trained on how to intervene and signpost kids to relevant services.
The source said: “One key strand was getting into residential children’s homes because children in care were seen as being particularly vulnerable.
“But that was only one part of it. This training could have been rolled out to hundreds of professionals, from teaching assistants to police community support officers.”
Since turning the funding down, Telford and Wrekin Council has received hundreds of child sexual exploitation referrals.
Its specialist abuse project supported 268 young people between 2011 and 2018 and has been forced to recruit extra staff due to the volume of work.
And files uncovered by the Sunday Mirror show professionals repeatedly failed to spot signs of abuse after the project was canned.
Shockingly, girls were blamed for their own ordeals and described by council staff as “prostitutes” in documents from 2013.
Others were made to sign “behaviour contracts” which asked them to accept responsibility for symptoms of being groomed.
A spokesman for Telford and Wrekin Council said: “The funding issue referred to relates to when the council’s previous administration was in control of the authority and a previous chief executive and director of children’s services were in post, who left in 2011.
“As a council, we are committed to co-operating with the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation.
“We have also committed to investing in tackling child sexual exploitation and supporting victims and survivors.”
Tory councillor Andrew Eade, who led the local authority at the time, said: “It would be highly improper to pass comment at this time, with the imminent commencement of the inquiry.
“We called for and fought hard for the inquiry and will be giving evidence.”
SCANDAL Cash could have helped child abuse victims Picture posed by model
SHOCKING Sunday Mirror’s Telford abuse exclusive