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Rochdale grooming gang prosecutor Nazir Afzal today backs calls for inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Bradford


The man who brought the high-profile prosecution against a grooming gang in Rochdale has backed calls for an inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Bradford.

Nazir Afzal, the former chief of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West, was the main speaker at a conference into CSE held in the city yesterday.
Mr Afzal told the Telegraph & Argus that he was in favour of a local inquiry into CSE in Bradford as long as it was quick and not resource-intensive, to give people “a real sense of where we are in Bradford and what needs to be done”.
He said: “There is a strong feeling here of agencies that feel this is something that is necessary. I personally think if the public want it , and certainly the practitioners here seem to want it, then they should have it.
“I’m not one to throw lots of money - the child abuse inquiry nationally has got four or five years of evidence taking and is going to cost tens of millions of pounds. I’d rather spend that money on protecting children.
“But there is no reason why something relatively quick, relatively focused, can’t take place here in Bradford to enable victims to talk about their experiences, survivors to talk about their experiences, for practitioners to talk about what they have found, and for people to think this is where we are now - this is our benchmark - now what do we do from here on in. Bradford will undoubtedly have hundreds of victims, some of whom have had justice, many of whom will have simply been ignored or not listened to and they deserve justice in the same way.”
Organised by Makin Dixon Solicitors, the conference at the city’s Midland Hotel also heard from Sammy Woodhouse, one of the victims of the Rotherham gang, an affected parent whose daughter was groomed as a teenager, and from Leeds-based national charity Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation.
Earlier this year Bradford Council announced there would not be an independent inquiry into child sex grooming in the district.
Following the completion of a serious case review into the case of a girl who was raped by a gang when she was 13 and 14, the Council said that an inquiry would not be of benefit in providing new information.
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “My understanding is that this event was organised by a private solicitors firm, not by any statutory agency, and focused on cases that happened outside our district.
“Our view regarding the need for a public inquiry in Bradford is that our resources are better spent on tackling CSE so we can protect young people and bring perpetrators to justice. We and the police spend an increasing amount every year on tackling this terrible crime. We actively investigate and pursue historic cases and we urge anyone affected by CSE to come forward and either contact us or the police.”
Michael Jameson, the Council's strategic director of children’s services, said: “We have been very open and clear in reporting our progress on CSE and how we are working as a partnership. This scrutiny has involved meetings with CSE campaigners, televised scrutiny in public and we have also referred ourselves to the Professor Alexis Jay Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. We are determined to continue to this scrutiny.
“Protecting our children and young people is top priority for the Council. The proactive work we do with the police, the NHS and voluntary organisations across Bradford District to tackle CSE is inspected regularly by independent national bodies and our partnership approach was praised by Ofsted following their independent inspection earlier this year.”
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