Keighley’s MP Robbie Moore has called for an independent, ‘Rotherham-style’ inquiry into child sexual abuse in West Yorkshire.
This call follows the release of a damning Review this summer into Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Safeguarding Practices across the Bradford District over the last 20 years. The Review which only focused on 5 children found they had experienced grotesque sexual abuse and there had been multi agency failings by Bradford Council and others which are still missing clear signs of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse has long been in issue within Keighley and across West Yorkshire. In 2016, a group of 12 men who committed serious sexual offences against two girls in Keighley and Bradford were jailed for a collective 132 years and 8 months. Last October, 21 men from Keighley and Bradford were arrested for being linked to offences that allegedly occurred against a young female between 2001 and 2009. Further investigations are ongoing.
Ann Cryer, Keighley’s MP between 1997 and 2010 was one of the first MP’s to raise concerns about grooming gangs and child sexual exploitation within the Pakistani community in West Yorkshire over 20 years ago. However, in that time, little has changed, with Keighley’s former Labour MP John Grogan previously saying a new inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children in Keighley and Bradford would not be in the best interest of young people. The town’s current MP Robbie Moore has made it a priority to tackle the issue once and for all.
A ‘Rotherham style’ inquiry – which could be commissioned by Bradford Council would be similar to that established by Rotherham Council in 2013, and conducted by an independent chair. The aim of the inquiry would be to look at the handling of child-sexual-exploitation reports by Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and other agencies, ‘common threads’ of where abuse has taken place, and to look at what needs to change to avoid these crimes happening again.
The findings of the inquiry in Rotherham led to a criminal inquiry by the National Crime Agency, and has seen 42 people jailed after being convicted for a range of horrific acts, including child abduction, rape, false imprisonment, and sexual intercourse with girls under 13.
Keighley’s MP Robbie Moore said, “Since becoming Keighley’s MP, I have heard abhorrent stories from victims of child sexual exploitation and grooming gangs. These are vile and disgusting crimes. It is high time this issue was finally tackled once and for all. That is why I am calling on Bradford Council to launch an independent ‘Rotherham-style’ inquiry into child sexual abuse so these issues can be looked at independently, bring this criminal minority to justice, and protect children and young people. I will also raise these issues in Parliament. It is my firm view that in order to move forward we need to understand the true scale of this issue. A Review which only looks at 5 children just isn’t good enough. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Mr. Moore has previously raised his concerns in Parliament around the risk of not addressing the issue, which would leave children and young people at risk, and open the door for the issue to be exploited.
Mr. Moore went on to say, “There are some who say we should just sweep this issue under the carpet – they are wrong. If we fail to address child sexual exploitation, and properly understand the scale of the problem, the very worst of humanity will exploit it for their own gain. This happened in 2005, when the far-right BNP made Keighley their No. 1 target seat. We cannot let that happen again. I hope all in positions of influence will call for such an inquiry, including the Leader of Bradford Council and our new West Yorkshire Mayor, who has responsibility for policing across West Yorkshire. ”
The call by Keighley’s MP follows a recent decision by the government to appoint a commissioner to oversee Children’s Services at Bradford Council, after Ofsted criticised the slow rate of improvement, almost three years after the services were rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.