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sábado, 10 de septiembre de 2016
Horrific abuse scandal in town dubbed 'child sex capital of Britain'
Police are under fire over a “ Rotherham style ” abuse scandal in a town dubbed the child sex capital of Britain.
Officers are accused of taking too long to probe allegations contained in files stretching to 150 pages.
It is claimed reports of grooming in Telford, Shrops, were logged incorrectly and not taken seriously enough despite an earlier probe that led to seven men being jailed in 2012.
Today, one victim who was hawked among paedophiles and forced to sleep with a string of men, said: “The police have betrayed the children of this town for a second time.
“I dread to think how many victims there have been over the years – it wouldn’t surprise me if the offending was on the same scale as Rotherham.”
She spoke after it emerged detailed reports had been handed to police by “street pastors” on night patrol.
They include eye-witness accounts of teenagers being sold drugs at underage discos and gangs of older men grooming drunk children.
The reports, compiled over three years, allege older men operate in gangs and circle disco venues, take-aways and kids’ haunts in cars, often approaching youngsters in the street.
Police admitted multiple incidents were markers of potential exploitation, but confessed the reporting system was initially flawed – stunting the gathering of intelligence.
Trained pastors – local church volunteers – began providing information in 2013 after Operation Chalice, which had probed earlier exploitation.
Leading calls for an independent inquiry, the abuse victim said: “I never want any other girl to go through what I did. We need a Rotherham-style inquiry in Telford.
“It has been going on for at least two decades. When will it stop?”
We attended discos in licensed premises on several occasions and witnessed older men circling the venue in cars.
We also saw three men in their 20s attempt to gain entry to one venue.
They sped off after spotting the street pastors, who alerted police immediately.
The victim added: “Child safety should be the most important thing and we feel let down by the way evidence has been treated. It is clear there is still a culture of exploitation.”
Street pastors co-ordinator, the Rev Keith Osmund-Smith, told how his team had provided information to police – but he doubts they were always acted on.
He said: “In the early days, the reports went to a number of senior officers.
"Because it was going to so many people, no one was really taking responsibility for it.
“I was never quite sure the things we were reporting were resulting in any serious action. Our reports mainly related to drugs.
“It’s part of child sexual exploitation to get children hooked on drugs.
"We have also walked girls away from cars containing adult males.
"There has now been a significant change. We do have established protocols for reporting incidents and there is a determination to deal with it properly.”
West Mercia Police confirmed the pastors’ intelligence has led to suspects being identified.
Underage discos in licensed premises have been stopped, in a bid to protect potential victims.
Movie mouse Stuart Little was used on some social media ads enticing kids to discos.
Allegations go back at least 20 years of child sex abuse at the hands of gangs in Telford, predominantly from the town’s Pakistani community.
Operation Chalice bore chilling echoes of what happened in Rotherham, South Yorks.
Many abusers had connections to fast food restaurants, where victims were sold to workers for sex.
Police said 100 girls could have been targeted in Telford between 2007 and 2009 alone.
Home Office figures show the town still has the highest child sex crime rate in the country.
There were 15.1 reported per 10,000 residents in the year to September 2015, up almost 150 per cent.
Telford’s population is 155,000 – meaning a potential 225 victims.
Rochdale, Lancs, was second in the league of shame with 14.1 child sex crimes per 10,000 residents.
Next came Rotherham and Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, both on 13.5.
Supt Tom Harding, of West Mercia Police, admitted some alleged crimes had not been logged in the same way as calls to 999 or 101 numbers but claimed this was because pastors did not report them as live incidents.
However, retrospective reports by members of the public via 101 are ordinarily logged as incidents.
Pastors now report all suspicious activity by phone as soon as it is spotted and are helping police investigations.
And Supt Harding insisted communication had improved dramatically.
He added: “Incidents identified by pastors point to potential signs of child sexual exploitation and we use this as intelligence, to target individuals who may need to be investigated.”
The Rotherham inquiry sent shockwaves through Britain.
It revealed 1,400 girls fell victim over 16 years, predominantly at the hands of men from the town’s Pakistani community.
Inquiry chief Professor Alexis Jay said girls as young as 11 were raped, tortured, beaten and even set on fire.
South Yorkshire Police had not prioritised the problem while council officials “underplayed” the abuse.
This year, four men from one family and two women were jailed for a total of 104 years for sex crimes.