Friday, 16th March 2018

Up to 1,000 children may have been abused in Telford, with victims as young as 11 years old suffering sexual exploitation. Allegations date back to the 1980s and abuse is reportedly continuing in the area. A newspaper investigation has found that cases of abuse were known to social workers however the police failed to investigate crimes and safeguard children for a period of ten years. The scandal highlights endemic failings in how we respond to child abuse and underlines the need for better training, multi-agency working and adequate resourcing of frontline care services.

The Telford child abuse revelations are the latest in a series of scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Newcastle where authorities repeatedly failed in their duty to protect vulnerable children from widespread sexual exploitation. Child victims and their families report being routinely ignored by authorities and in many cases blamed for their own abuse, while perpetrators were not brought to justice. Furthermore, the police did not launch an investigation until a decade after the abuses were reported to social workers, leaving victims vulnerable to ongoing abuse and without the support needed to rebuild their lives. Early reports indicate a number of failings, including a lack of multi-agency collaboration to effectively safeguard vulnerable children and bring their abusers to justice.

Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, says

“It is unacceptable but sadly no longer shocking that a number of statutory agencies knew of the abuses taking place, but failed to act. These continual failures created an abhorrent culture of victim-blaming and an environment in which offenders were free to exploit and abuse vulnerable children with impunity. The authorities involved in the scandal must take responsibility for these failings and statutory agencies throughout the country must ensure procedures are in place to prevent any mishandling of abuse allegations.

“In order to identify children at risk of abuse and respond appropriately to reports of exploitation, frontline workers must receive specialised training on trafficking indicators. Multi-agency working, proactive policing and a child-centred approach are also vital. Moreover, the government must ensure frontline agencies are adequately resourced to carry out child safeguarding and protection duties. Most importantly, the children who have been exploited must receive the support needed to recover – this includes access to justice. Change is required at every level to ensure we don’t continue to make the same mistakes and fail children across the UK.”


Press contacts

Sinead Geoghegan, Information, Media and Communications Officer, ECPAT UK: 020 7607 2136 [email protected]

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK: 07402 113 985 [email protected]