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Telford child sex abuse: Pressure is growing for independent inquiry

Politicians from across Shropshire have continued their call for an independent inquiry into child abuse in Telford.

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MP Lucy Allan at the House of Commons, where she has raised the issue of an inquiry into child sex abuse in Telford

The town's MP Lucy Allan said the problem had been people's attitude towards women and girls, while Ludlow MP Philip Dunne and opposition leader Andrew Eade said the extent of the issue needed to be revealed.

"I genuinely believe we need to find out why this happened," Ms Allan said. "Our communities need answers.

"This is about failing to join the dots. It's about social and cultural attitudes to young women and girls, where it's seen to be, somehow, that the victim has brought it upon themselves. That is what I find abhorrent about this.

"People will almost say 'That's how they behave, isn't it?'

"And it's that attitude towards young women and girls where people feel this is perfectly normal behaviour for these girls without questioning why it is they are engaging in sexual activity with men who are 35, 40 when they are only 13."

Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, said half-measures to solve the problem would not suffice.

"It is a wake-up call to an extremely serious issue," he said.

Identifying vulnerable young people

"I have had briefings from West Mercia Police outlining how they have been tackling this issue since it emerged, and I am encouraged West Mercia Police have become more skilled in identifying vulnerable young people at risk from grooming, especially looked after children, and in tackling perpetrators.

"Much of the abuse reported so widely is historic, and points to a catalogue of failures in the past by the police and the local authority in Telford to act and safeguard children against such horrific exploitation. But we still see headlines in our papers about child sexual abuse uncovered in Telford and other areas. So I do not believe we can accept that this is not an ongoing issue today.

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"Half measures will not suffice, and will not represent justice for those allegedly 1,000 girls or so and young women since the 1980s who have suffered at the hands of abusers.

"A full independent inquiry would send a powerful message, would likely lead to others coming forward, and would highlight to today’s perpetrators, victims and those in positions of responsibility what horrendous consequences such exploitation can have."

Andrew Eade, leader of the opposition Telford Conservatives group, said the full extent of the problem needed to be made clear.

He said: "I believe there is a problem here and we need to address the problems as quickly and as conclusively as we can. We need to understand the extent of the problems for we can deal with it.

"I think the problem is we do not know the extent of what is happening at the moment and that is not a good position to be in.

"We are not looking for a witch hunt or to hang anyone out to dry but we need to know the full extent of the problem."