Grooming survivor tells GB News she's 'spent 10 minutes in town crying' after Telford inquiry findings

The Telford Inquiry finds more than 1,000 children were sexually exploited over at least 30 years

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A survivor of grooming in Telford, Samantha Smith, said she cried for "10 minutes" upon hearing the results of the Telford Inquiry.

Findings published earlier today outlined how unnecessary suffering and even deaths of children might have been avoided, had West Mercia Police (WMP) “done its most basic job” in acting on reports of such crime.

For decades child sexual exploitation (CSE) “thrived” in the Shropshire town and went “unchecked” because of failures to investigate offenders and protect children amid fears that probes into Asian men would “inflame racial tensions”.

Samantha Smith
Samantha Smith

Inquiry chairman Tom Crowther QC said: “The overwhelming theme of the evidence has been the appalling suffering of generations of children caused by the utter cruelty of those who committed child sexual exploitation.

“Victims and survivors repeatedly told the inquiry how, when they were children, adult men worked to gain their trust before ruthlessly betraying that trust, treating them as sexual objects or commodities.

“Countless children were sexually assaulted and raped. They were deliberately humiliated and degraded. They were shared and trafficked. They were subjected to violence and their families were threatened.

“They lived in fear and their lives were forever changed.”

Responding to the findings, grooming survivor Samantha Smith told GB News' Colin Brazier: "I've spent the last ten minutes crying in the middle of the town centre, reading through what victims have known all along."

The chairman of the inquiry described a “culture of not investigating what was regarded as "child prostitution" and said the force turned “a blind eye and chose not to see what was obvious”.

Samantha Smith spoke to Colin Brazier on GB News
Samantha Smith spoke to Colin Brazier on GB News

He said an absence of police action had emboldened offenders, and added: “It is impossible not to wonder how different the lives of those early 2000s victims of child sexual exploitation – and indeed many others unknown to this inquiry – may have been had WMP done its most basic job and acted upon these reports of crime."

Speaking to Colin this afternoon, Ms Smith emphasised her disappointment in the response following the report, saying: "The police, social services, local authorities, and local council turned a blind eye to, blamed and frankly ignored victims of child sexual exploitation, child sex crimes in Telford."

She added: "It shows that police, council and social services, not only turned a blind eye to it, but blamed the girls for the abuse they suffered.

"I mean when I first talked to my social worker about the abuse I experience, I was asked why there were no bruises.

"My police officer from the CSE team who handled my case when I finally spoke up about it, they decided to take no further action, and instead had a stern conversation with one of my abusers which really in my opinion sums up all I have to say about the issue."

Seven men were jailed in 2013 following Operation Chalice, a police probe into child prostitution in the Telford area.

In 2018, a Sunday Mirror investigation concluded that around 1,000 children could have been sexually exploited in the Shropshire town over a 40-year period, leading to calls for a public inquiry which was commissioned later that year by Telford and Wrekin Council.

In 2019, one of the seven prosecuted six years earlier was jailed alongside three other men for abusing a “helpless” young girl who was “passed around like a piece of meat”, sold for sex and raped.

The victim, aged just 13 when the abuse began in 2001, told how she was forced to perform sex acts in a churchyard, raped above a shop on a filthy mattress, and violently abused when she tried to refuse their advances.

The inquiry, which has taken three years to conclude, looked at allegations from 1989 to the present day but Mr Crowther said he had also spoken to victims whose experiences dated back to the 1970s.

Appearing on Dewbs & Co later in the day, former Detective Constable with Greater Manchester Police Maggie Oliver was also asked her views on the inquiry's findings.

She told GB News' Michelle Dewberry: “I share your despair that this is another day, another town, another report... and yet every single one says the same thing: children being blamed, authorities failing."