Campaigner Angela Sinfield hits out as authority says public inquiry would be of no benefit
Angela Sinfield, from Keighley, has been campaigning for an inquiry into child sex exploitation (CSE) for years, but the Council has now told her that such an undertaking “would not be of benefit” in providing new information.
However, the authority will be meeting with the chairman of the national review into child sex abuse next month to discuss how the issue is being dealt with locally.
On Tuesday, Mrs Sinfield addressed the Council’s Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee about the issue.
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She said she was “not surprised” by the decision not to hold a inquiry, and added: “Our campaign will continue, and I have written to the Home Office to ask why no separate inquiry is taking place in Bradford.
“I have no confidence in this committee to make sure that our children are being kept safe.”
Last year she was told no decision would be made on an inquiry until the completion of a serious case review into the case of a girl who was raped by the gang over 13 months between 2011 and 2012, when she was 13 and 14. The review was published last month, and the Council has now opted not to hold a further inquiry.
Responding to Mrs Sinfield, deputy Council leader Val Slater said: “We are involved with the national inquiry, and we have been communicating with them to let them know the concerns raised in Bradford.”
She said the main form of grooming in the district was within family groups or involving friends.
The second most common form was among faith or sports groups, followed by online grooming, and then street grooming by gangs.
Cllr Slater said: “We can’t just focus on one area of CSE, because then you run the risk of ignoring other areas.”
Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe released a statement saying: “The serious case review highlighted areas where we and our partners failed to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation, but it also recognises that much has been done since to tackle CSE across our district.
“The Council has sent the review to Professor Alexis Jay, chair of the national inquiry into child abuse as well the Department for Education, the National Panel for Serious Case Reviews and Ofsted; none has given an indication that an inquiry would be of benefit in providing new information, and the Council also shares this view.”
A West Yorkshire Police Spokesman said: "Child sexual exploitation is a priority and victims are urged to report such matters so they can be investigated sensitively and thoroughly by specially trained officers."