A long-awaited report into extensive child grooming in Telford is to be published.

An independent inquiry verified claims that up to 1,000 children were cared for in the city over a 40-year period.

The investigation should reveal the scale of the scandal and find out whether the authorities in the city failed the children.

Holly Archer now works with other victims of abuse to support women and children who have been affected. We are not using her real name to protect her identity.

“I was 14 when my abuse started,” she said.

“And then boys my age sold my phone number to older men who then harassed me and wouldn’t leave me alone.

“I ended up being trafficked around Telford and the West Midlands and sold to different men and that went on until I was 18.”

She said threats of violence could not escape.

“They threatened to rape my mother or my sisters. There was quite a lot of violence there.”

She remembered feeling like she had no one to turn to for help.

“The social services failed me, the psychiatric service, the child psychiatric service – they failed me. My therapist, the police, because they saw us on the street and just drove by in the middle of the night and didn’t even say anything,” she added.

“We’ve been condemned as having messy relationships or making those choices ourselves.”

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“A weapon was involved”

Joan, not her real name, says her abuse began when she was about 12 years old.

She dropped out of school and as a result her abusers forced her to become a prostitute.

“I was arrested by the police. I was considered a criminal,” she said.

The fear of violence made her feel trapped.

“Weapons were involved. A lot of weapons were used against me,” she explained.

There are girls in the city who could not stand the violence.

Lucy Lowe died when she was 16 years old

“The police should have known something”

Lucy Lowe died when she was 16 when her abuser set fire to her home.

Her mother and sister also perished in the flames. Her abuser went to prison for their murders.

Lucy gave birth to his child when she was only 14 years old.

Her uncle Ed Lowe believes their deaths should have been prevented.

“I think the social services should have known something, the police should have known something,” he said.

“Did they turn a blind eye? Did you do your job wrong? Certainly not. Because of what happened next, obviously the death of three members of my brother’s family, his wife and two daughters.

“If they had noticed that the 14-year-old girl was pregnant, the school, social services, then the police should have been involved, this would never have happened. So they failed. And I think they’ve let quite a few people down in this town.”

Ed Lowe
Ed Lowe

“No one asks what’s going on”

Scarlett Jones, also not her real name, said attitudes need to change.

She said: “I was 15 when I gave birth. The stigma that was attached to it even in the hospital where I gave birth… one of the midwives said to me who are the toys for, you or the baby?”

“Teachers at school told me I was messy and I needed to stop behaving like that. No one asked me why, what was happening, what was happening to me.

“The problem, in my opinion, is that the questions are not being asked today. And these questions must be asked. We label children as bad, and no one asks what’s going on.”

Sky News has contacted Telford and Wrekin Council and West Mercia Police for a response.


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