Telford has the highest rate of sex crimes against children in the UK, with 15.1 per 10,000 incidents reported in the year to September 2015 Rex
Leaders of a town with the highest rate of sex crimes against children in the UK referred fewer than a third of reports of child sexual exploitation made last year, it has emerged.
A report compiled by the local authority revealed that concerns made by parents in Telford over the safety of their children were ignored by the council and the police, with just 45 of 137 sexual exploitation reports referred to the Safeguarding Children board in seven months last year.
The report, by Telford and Wrekin Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, revealed parents thought "the police investigation was slow, the council and social workers had been dismissive and communication had been poor".
It added that parents said there had been "little joint working" and that "agencies had not wanted to accept responsibility".
But no officials or staff members were disciplined following the inquiry, and the council concluded agencies were "working well together" on tackling the issue.
Earlier this year, the Home Office revealed Telford had the highest rate of sex crimes against children in the UK, with 15.1 per 10,000 incidents reported in the year to September 2015 — a rise of almost 150 per cent.
I believe that is 15.1 incidents per 10,000 people.
In 2013, seven men were jailed in the town on charges of rape, sex trafficking and prostitution involving girls as young as 13 as part of "Operation Chalice".
Following the report Telford and Wrekin Council West Mercia Police and the Telford and Wrekin Safeguarding Children Board published an open letter to Telford residents.
It read: "We would like to [...] reassure you of the importance we place on tackling child sex offences in Telford.
"Firstly, we would like to be clear that we are under no illusion that like other areas of the country there are significant concerns around the sexual exploitation of children in Telford. It has happened in the past and it is happening today.
"We would like to assure people that every single report is appropriately recorded and thoroughly investigated.
"Like any town or city in the country, there are still children being sexually abused in Telford and we will not rest while this continues to be the case."
The open letter was recieved with criticism from Telford residents when it was published on West Mercia Police's Facebook page.
One local resident claimed she made a report that was ignored, saying: "Local authority champion in the issue? Yeah right, that's why they completely ignored my report."
Samantha Spearing, who works at TCAT College in Telford, raised the issue that there was not enough education surrounding the dangers of child sex exploitation.
She wrote: "There is not enough educating in schools and colleges in the dangers around such issues. I have worked in both for over 10 years and not enough is done to raise awareness."
Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia Police, John Campion, said: “Safeguarding in Telford and the wider West Mercia remains a top priority.
"As Commissioner, I am not only working in partnership with other organisations to tackle the issue but I also hold the police to account for their actions and performance.
"We will not rest in the fight to keep our children and the wider community safe from those that seek to do them harm.”
Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, praised the Telford Street Pastors, a group of ununiformed volunteers from local churches who work to protect young people on the streets during the night, but emphasized that more needs to be done to prevent the occurrence of child sex exploitation.
Ms Allan said: "In Telford, as in other areas, child sex exploitation has not gone away and under reporting continues.
"On a night out with Telford Street Pastors last year, I could clearly see groups of men in high spec cars, circling a night club and encouraging young women and girls to get in their cars. The Street Pastors do an amazing job.
"There are many improved working practices and Ofsted acknowledges this. There is clear commitment to improvement."
Meanwhile, this just in...
From BBC Shropshire
Five people have been charged with conspiracy to murder a teenager who was found injured at a Telford house.
The four men and a woman have also been charged with false imprisonment and conspiracy to carry out a sexual assault.
It follows an incident which took place in the Woodside area between 27 August and 1 September.
The victim remains in a stable condition in hospital.
The five - aged 19 to 25 - will appear before Telford magistrates on Monday.