'Infuriated' MP demands inquiry into child sex abuse in West Yorkshire city

A Yorkshire MP said he is “infuriated” because Bradford Council has decided it will not order an inquiry to determine the scale of child sexual exploitation in the district.

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, has called for a thorough investigation similar to the one led by Professor Alexis Jay in Rotherham in 2014

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley and Ilkley, has called for a thorough investigation similar to the one led by Professor Alexis Jay in Rotherham in 2014.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said an inquiry “would not be of additional value” but the local authority is working hard to tackle child sexual exploitation and has been “consistently open and transparent”.

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It comes after an independent review, which detailed the sexual abuse suffered by five children in Bradford over a 17-year period and the response of the council, police and other agencies, was published by the Bradford Partnership in July.

The report states the response of some agencies has improved significantly, but it is “not yet good enough in all cases” and “some children remain unprotected while some perpetrators remain unknown and unchallenged”.

Mr Moore said the findings are “horrific” but a review which looks at the abuse suffered by only five children “isn’t good enough”.

The Conservative MP added: “It showed multi-agency failings and also outlines that there are still children at risk within the Bradford district and there are still unknown perpetrators out there now, who are unchallenged.

“We absolutely need to understand the scale of what has been going on over the last 20-plus years and also hold those agencies to account so that we can actually get proper learning and provide reassurance to those victims that have gone through this.

“It is absolutely the case that Bradford council have it within their remit to be able to trigger a full inquiry.

“Bradford Council are refusing to do that and I’m absolutely infuriated by that. I think it demonstrates their unwillingness to shine a light and to investigate themselves and other agencies.”

"A local public enquiry would not be of additional value"

Councillor Hinchcliffe said: “We’ve been consistently open and transparent about our work on child sexual exploitation, both on historic crimes and how we are tackling it now. Bradford referred itself to the national inquiry (on child sex abuse) some time ago and has worked with them.

"The MP seems to infer that this is the only report Bradford district has ever done on child sexual exploitation, it is not. The independent thematic review published in July is one of a number of reports produced on CSE over a long period of time.”

She added: ““Bradford has been consistent in the view that a local public enquiry would not be of additional value. We do not believe it would deliver any new learning over and above the many reports we’ve already produced on the subject.”

Mr Moore also said he is “frustrated” that West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin is not pressing for an inquiry.

She said: ““The recent independent thematic review has robustly scrutinised the approach locally and identified new opportunities for learning, which Bradford has already acted on.

“I’d like to thank the survivors for their bravery in coming forward and sharing their experiences. The recommendations arising from it are helping to inform the content of my Policing and Crime Plan for West Yorkshire.

“We must remain alert to the dangers of exploitation in the present and future.”

Professor Jay’s report, published in 2014 after Rotherham Council established an inquiry, said an estimated 1,400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 and the “collective failures of political and officer leadership were blatant”.

It prompted the National Crime Agency to launch an investigation – called Operation Stovewood – Rotherham into child sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013.

The NCA said last year it had more than 200 people working on Operation Stovewood, which had a yearly budget of just under £12 million, and it had engaged with 313 alleged victims and survivors in the town and identified 190 suspects.