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Inquiry into Telford child sexual exploitation to look at timescale

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Crime | Published:

Telford's Child Sexual Exploitation inquiry is to ask victims and the public what time period should be covered by the investigation.

The commissioning body responsible for setting up the inquiry, legal firm Eversheds Sutherland, has started a consultation on the terms of reference for what it will investigate, and has planned a public session for next month.

The latest development comes after the appointment of Tom Crowther QC as the chair of the inquiry earlier this week.

Terms of reference will set out what the investigation will look into.

The inquiry was sparked by media reports which suggested that that there had been as many as 1,000 victims of CSE in Telford over the previous 40 years.

In setting out its consultation the commissioning body has said that early discussions have indicated that CSE goes back many years in the town, and is also continuing today.

It is inviting views on a number of matters such as timescale of the inquiry, the location, and what the inquiry should achieve.

A statement from the inquiry body said: "The inquiry has not yet received any documentation in relation to CSE in Telford. It is however apparent from discussions that have taken place with CSE survivors that instances of CSE extend back many years, and are also continuing today.

"There are a number of aspects to consider when defining the period of time that the inquiry will examine and how far back it should look."

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The statement says that those aspects include "the importance of learning lessons and identifying any patterns and trends from historical events".

It will also take into account the "availability of documentation and the availability and recall of witnesses relating to historical events, which may mean that reaching any reliable and meaningful findings in respect of events dating back a number of decades is difficult".

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Another issue which will feature in the consultation is whether the timespan of the inquiry will affect the length of time it takes to publish any recommendations as a result of its findings.

The statement also sets out that it will consider offences that either started of continued to take place in Telford.

It said: "The inquiry’s preliminary view is that the instances of CSE relevant to the inquiry are those where the victim/survivor lived in Telford at the time of the exploitation, or the first instance of exploitation, as there may be instances where the exploitation continued despite that victim/survivor having moved out of the area.

"This would mean that where CSE has taken place in Telford, but the victim/survivor did not live in Telford, such cases would not be covered by the inquiry’s remit."

A public open session of the consultation will take place at Telford's Ramada Hotel at 6pm on Tuesday, July 2.

A spokesman for the inquiry said: "The inquiry will be holding a public session to provide an opportunity to meet the chair of the inquiry and for the chair to gather input as part of the consultation process. There will be a short opening address from the chair, but the purpose of the event is for the public to provide their views and comments on the inquiry’s terms of reference."

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