Police in Telford have been accused of ignoring child sex abuse after it emerged volunteers have been passing evidence of grooming to them for three years.
Officers have been criticised for failing to make progress on sex gangs in the town, dubbed the “child sex capital of Britain”, while sitting on 150 pages of abuse allegations.
One victim who was forced to have sex with a string of men told The Mirror: “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.”
Her comments come as it emerged local “street pastors” have been handing reports of older men targeting young girls to police since 2013.
The reports allege that gang members in cars circle takeaways and other places frequented by young people and children, who they will then often just approach in the street.
Included in the 150 pages are accounts of drugs being sold at underage discos and of gangs of older men grooming drunk children.
The trained church volunteers began to pass information on following Operation Chalice, an investigation into a child prostitution ring in Telford. The police probe saw seven Pakistani men jailed on charges of rape, trafficking, and prostitution of girls as young as 13.
The street pastors’ coordinator, Reverend Keith Osmund-Smith, said he doubts police have acted on the abuse reports his team has handed in over the years.
“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,” Mr. Osmund-Smith recalled.
“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.”
The Reverend also disclosed that street pastors have had to “walk girls away from cars containing adult males”.
West Mercia Police Superintendent Tom Harding said they have taken action on the information but flaws in the reporting system had hampered the gathering of evidence.
He said: “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 Superintendent also reported that underage discos are no longer allowed to take place in licensed venues, and that the pastors’ abuse accounts have helped the police to identify suspects.
An unnamed victim said: “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.”
“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?”
Past cases of child sexual exploitation in Telford have linked to the town’s Pakistani community, echoing epidemics of mostly Pakistani men abusing white children around the country.
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 — a rise of almost 150 per cent.
Second on the list is Rochdale, with 14.1 child sex crimes per 100,000 residents followed by Rotherham, with 13.5 per 100,000. Both towns have been blighted by Pakistani rape gangs over the years.
A report released in 2014 estimated more than 1,400 children in Rotherham had been victims of grooming gangs who engaged in rape, sex trafficking, and torture.
Police watchdogs are investigating almost 200 officers in the town alleged to have conspired to protect the Muslim sex gangs. A number of officers and even local politicians stand accused of taking part in the sexual exploitation of children.
Other locations the sick sex gangs have been found operating include Rochdale, Derby, Oxford, Bristol, Peterborough, and Keighley.
Because the vast majority of abusers in the gangs are Pakistani, some child protection groups say they were “accused of being a cover for the BNP” for trying to draw attention to the issue.