The Independent Inquiry, that published its report into child sexual exploitation on Tuesday 12 July 2022, highlighted the pain and distress victims and survivors had gone through.
The Leader thanked them for sharing their experiences with the Inquiry; their tenacity and resilience in speaking up was extraordinary.
The Leader stated the Council was deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that had been caused.
He also thanked The Sunday Mirror and Geraldine McKelvie for shining a light on child sexual exploitation in Telford and supporting the victims and survivors in telling their personal and harrowing stories.
Additionally, the Council acknowledged the hard work of the Inquiry chair, Tom Crowther QC, and his team who worked on the Inquiry.
The report, commissioned by the Council, dated back to 1989 and it heard evidence dating back to the 1970s.
In 1989, the Leader was 3 years of age. He was proud to come from Telford and it had been a wonderful place to grow up.
However, it clearly was not the same for many children and young people. This brought great sadness.
As a Telford dad and a corporate parent, the Leader was more determined than ever to make this a safe and happy place for future generations.
The report had found areas where more could have been done over the last three decades to support victims and survivors and their families.
Even though the Inquiry acknowledged significant and transformational improvements since 2016, and the inquiry specifically stated that services today were good, the Council fully accepted and would act on all of the Inquiry’s recommendations in full.
It was for all; every elected Member, Council officer, and every partner to ensure these recommendations were fully implemented.
The Leader would be speaking to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat group leaders and the Police & Crime Commissioner about how they could work together to take the recommendations forward.
One early concern from victims and survivors was the funding of the CATE team, the team of dedicated professionals who were at the forefront of the response to tackling child sexual exploitation, and who were commended throughout by the Inquiry. The report proposed that the team was properly funded for the next 5 years. The Leader made a commitment that funding would be protected, not just for the next 5 years but also beyond as long as Labour led the Council.
The Leader was humbled and thankful in equal measure that survivors Holly Archer and Scarlett Jones had agreed to be part of the implementation process moving forward. Working together, they would co-design the Council’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations; to make sure it was doing the very best it could for those people who needed it the most.
He thanked Scarlett and Holly for holding the Council to account and for agreeing to be part of the Authority’s journey moving forward.
Together, everybody could ensure that a future that we can be proud about is built, a future that ensured that children and grandchildren, now and for generations to come, were safe and happy in Telford and share in the positive experiences a child growing up here in Telford and Wrekin should experience.