In April 2018, Telford & Wrekin Council (the “Council”) unanimously agreed to commission an independent, non-statutory Inquiry into child sexual exploitation within the Borough of Telford & Wrekin. Further background information giving context to this decision is included in a Report, and appendices, to the Council’s Cabinet on 29 March 2018 and 19 April 2018 which are available on the Council's web-site. The Inquiry has been set up voluntarily by the Council and has no statutory powers to compel evidence.
Following that motion, the Council implemented a process to ensure the establishment of the Inquiry was as independent as possible from the Council. This involved the Council implementing a two stage process:
The first stage was for the Council to appoint an independent Commissioning Body for the Inquiry. The Commissioning Body’s responsibilities include:
recruiting and appointing the Independent Chair;
establishing stakeholder engagement;
drafting the terms of reference;
designing the parameters of the Inquiry and supporting the Independent Chair with delivery of the Inquiry, as required; and
holding the Independent Chair to account. The Commissioning Body will receive a Draft Report from the Independent Chair and review it against the terms of reference and, subject to it meeting all elements of the terms of reference, receive a Final Report. The Commissioning Body will be responsible for reporting the Final Report to the Cabinet and Council.
Following a competitive tender process in November 2018, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP was appointed as the Commissioning Body on 22 January 2019.
The Independent Chair
The second stage is for the Commissioning Body to recruit and appoint an Independent Chair, who will need to work with, be accountable to, the Commissioning Body. The Independent Chair will:
work with the Commissioning Body to finalise the terms of reference and parameters of the Inquiry;
lead and conduct the Inquiry in accordance with its terms of reference and within an agreed timeframe;
provide leadership and direction to enable the effective participation in the Inquiry of those able to give information of value to it;
engage with all relevant stakeholders in order to obtain information relevant to the Inquiry’s terms of reference, applying a strategy that recognises the Inquiry’s limited powers to compel the production of material; and
be responsible for producing a Draft Report for the Commissioning Body to review against the terms of reference, and then produce a Final Report.
The purpose of the Inquiry is to:
fully investigate and establish the facts of child sexual exploitation in Telford & Wrekin;
to identify if, and where, public, and other, services have failed and where possible, to establish who is accountable for any failure; and
to make recommendations for the future.