Telford back in spotlight over child sex abuse claims

Tuesday 13th March 2018 08:57 EDT

The latest claims about the scale of abuse in Telford have surfaced more than four years after a police investigation first revealed the organised abuse and exploitation of children.

Demands for a dedicated public inquiry came from the borough’s Conservative councillors and MP Lucy Allan in 2016. They said victims and the public deserved answers over what had happened during two decades of abuse in the town.

Two national newspapers have reported cases going back several years, all of which have been featured in the Shropshire Star. Both the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mail portrayed Telford as being home to one of the UK’s ‘worst ever sex abuse scandals’.

Reports from the Sunday Mirror claim that analysis of fresh evidence indicates that as many as 1,000 children had been abused by sex gangs over a 40-year period.

West Mercia Police said they were aware of the information in the Mirror reports but that “it is not new”.

Seven Telford men were jailed in 2013 as a result of Operation Chalice, during which police revealed they had identified more than 100 girls who had been targeted by a child sex abuse gang.

Telford MP Lucy Allan has repeatedly called for a “Rotherham-style” inquiry. In 2016 she said that an investigation carried out by Telford & Wrekin Council should have been followed by a dedicated inquiry.

In light of the latest reports Ms Allan has reiterated her call, and said an inquiry is essential for people to have faith in the authorities.

She said: “News reports in the Sunday Mirror concerning child sexual exploitation in Telford are extremely serious and shocking. There must now be an independent inquiry into CSE in Telford so that our community can have absolute confidence in the authorities.

“In 2016 Telford & Wrekin Council, together with its safeguarding partners, assured the Home Secretary that no inquiry into CSE in Telford was necessary as ‘progress had been made’ and lessons learned. In the light of these new allegations, I would urge the authorities in Telford to commission an independent inquiry at the earliest opportunity.”

In 2016 Telford & Wrekin Council rejected the call for a specific inquiry and said the government’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is looking at how institutions across the country dealt with allegations of abuse, would cover concerns raised by Ms Allan.

The investigation dubbed Operation Chalice led to the prosecution of seven men and was launched in 2009.

Officers said that they also believed up to 200 men from across the country had been involved in the ring – with a “huge percentage of them” unidentified.

The trial had heard evidence from four women who were between 13 and 16 when they were abused between 2007 and 2009.

The leading figures in the network of abusers were brothers Ahdel and Mubarek Ali, from Regent Street, Wellington.

Both men, who variously sexually abused, raped, and controlled child prostitution involving four of the teenage victims, received lengthy sentences after an eight-week trial. Ahdel Ali received a 26-year extended sentence and Mubarek Ali was given a 22-year sentence.

Also convicted were Mohammed Ali Sultan, 26, of Victoria Avenue, Wellington; Tanveer Ahmed, 40, of Urban Gardens, Wellington; Mohammed Islam Choudhrey, 53, of Solway Drive, Sutton Hill; Mahroof Khan, 35, of Caradoc Flats, Kingshaye Road, Wellington, and Mohammed Younis, 60, of Kingsland, Arleston.

Youth workers first raised the alarm when teenage girls in Wellington, some as young as 13, started telling them the same stories about men they were seeing.

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