More than 1,000 children have been abused by sexual grooming gangs in Telford, amid decades of failings by police and authorities.
An independent inquiry found that rape, sexual abuse, brainwashing, drugging and other crimes had “thrived unchecked” in the Shropshire town since the 1970s.
Chair Tom Crowther QC said “obvious signs” of exploitation such as teenage pregnancies and disappearances were ignored, as children were labelled as prostitutes or blamed for their “lifestyles” and perpetrators went free.
“Exploitation was not investigated because of nervousness about race,” he concluded.
“Teachers and youth workers were discouraged from reporting child sexual exploitation (CSE). Offenders were emboldened and exploitation continued for years without a concerted response.”
The inquiry found that even after a West Mercia Police operation was launched in 2009 and resulted in several prosecutions, the force and local council “scaled down their specialist CSE teams to virtual zero – to save money”.