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UK Grooming Gangs: Majority of Telford Sex Abuse Referrals Involved Children Under 15

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The majority of referrals for suspected child grooming and sex abuse cases in Telford are against girls under the age of 15, according to data obtained by the BBC.

The Freedom of Information Request data obtained by the broadcaster revealed that 268 referrals have been made to West Mercia Police since an investigation was launched into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the West Midlands town.

Of the 268, 181 of the alleged victims are under the age of 15 — below the age of sexual consent — with the majority of cases being girls between the ages of 12 and 15.

Since 2016, the CSE team has arrested 56 people, resulting in 29 charges. Inquiries are ongoing.

The investigations come after The Mirror broke a story in March that as many as 1,000 children may have been groomed, raped, trafficked for sex, and even murdered by gangs of mostly Muslim men of South Asian extraction in the town over a 40-year period, making it potentially the worst grooming scandal in British history.

One victim was Lucy Lowe, who was groomed and raped by Azhar Ali Mehmood. At the age of 14, she had given birth to his child, and at 16, again pregnant, Lucy, her sister, and her mother were killed in a house fire started by then-26-year-old Mehmood in August 2000. Mehmood was jailed in 2001.

Fierce criticism has been levelled against local authorities for failing to act, with Telford MP Lucy Allan warning in May that police ignored the large-scale sexual abuse.

Like the similar Rotherham and Rochdale grooming gang cases, authorities allegedly operated in a culture of political correctness, cover-ups, and victim blaming.

Whistleblowers revealed that some cases against rape suspects were dropped because pursuing the court orders was considered “too much trouble”, and a leaked internal police memo claimed that “in most cases the sex is consensual” — despite many alleged victims being below the age of consent.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is also said to have sent one parent a letter saying that they would not prosecute his underaged daughter’s rapist because she had “consented” to sex with her abuser.

Like the other mass-grooming scandals, it is believed the majority of victims were white British girls — although a follow-up report by The Mirror pointed to there being a “raft” of victims of Indian and Pakistani heritage, as well, “who have kept quiet to save their families being shunned”.

Ansar Ali, of the group Together Against Grooming, told The Mirror in August that “Research has shown that only around a third of victims will be represented by official figures. But women from Asian communities are far less likely to come forward.”

“There are undoubtedly a disproportionate number of Pakistani men involved, but they have no loyalty to any one community,” Mr Ansar claimed.

Follow Victoria Friedman on Twitter at @FriedmanPress
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