Reassure public on sex abuse, council boss told

The centre of Bradford
The centre of Bradford
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Leaders in a Yorkshire city have been urged to reassure the public they are doing enough to tackle child sex abuse in the wake of a damning report into the scale of the problem in Rotherham.

Members of the Independents Group on Bradford council have written an open letter to the authority’s leader David Green asking him to confirm that “all necessary resources will be made available” in the city.

Rotherham is under the spotlight after the horrific scale of child sex abuse was revealed last month, and it is feared the problem is not confined to the South Yorkshire town.

In the letter to Mr Green, seen by The Yorkshire Post, Craven councillors Adrian Naylor and Chris Atkinson and Ilkley Councillor Anne Hawkesworth wrote: “We know you will be aware of the dreadful revelations contained in the Jay Report relating to the sexual abuse of young girls in Rotherham.

“We are sure that you cannot be unaware of the allegations of similar abuse in Bradford and Keighley which are circulating in the broadcast and printed media and particularly on the internet.

“We invite you to publicly confirm and reassure the people of Bradford in relation to these events that all necessary resources will be made available to deal with any issues that have arisen or may arise and that all possible steps have been taken to ensure the security of any documentation which may in the future be needed.”

Around two thirds of the 65 live child sexual exploitation investigations in West Yorkshire are in the Bradford district. West Yorkshire Police say that of these, the vast majority involve a single offender and victim.

Three investigations involve multiple alleged offenders. In one of those three, 12 men have been charged and are going through the courts, in relation to alleged sexual offences against a girl.

Two other enquiries are ongoing, one in the Keighley area, where 28 men are currently on bail for alleged offences against four girls and the other in Calderdale area, where 31 men are currently bailed for alleged offences against two girls.

In response to the letter, Mr Green said: “Child abuse is an appalling crime and we in Bradford do everything we can and should do to protect our young people. We are part of a multi-agency hub involving various partner organisations across Bradford district which shares information and provides support to victims and we work extremely closely with the police to tackle this issue. We have invested an additional £250,000 in child sexual exploitation preventative work.”

He added that a programme began this month with services commissioned by the voluntary and community sector partners including every Year 10 student in Bradford to attend a child sexual exploitation drama reinforced by lesson plans.

He said: “The public can rest assured that we will continue to be vigilant and do everything we can to protect our young people but we also need help from the community as a whole and for them to pass on information if they suspect that child sexual exploitation is taking place or children are at risk.”