Home Pastors A street pastor speaks out after damning the findings of the Telford CSE report

A street pastor speaks out after damning the findings of the Telford CSE report

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Reverend Keith Osmund-Smith

The Reverend Keith Osmund-Smith, senior co-ordinator of Telford Street Pastors, was also West Mercia Police Chaplain until last year.

In 2016, he raised concerns that force was not addressing reports of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the city.

Police responded by launching an investigation into his allegations and he was placed on sabbatical.

He was eventually reinstated after it was decided that his role as a street pastor did not conflict with his position as a police chaplain.

The Reverend Osmund-Smith welcomed the findings of the Crowther report, which was released this week, and said education would be key in a number of areas to ensure children are safe from abusers.

He said police and council officials needed to look into why victims were being charged with crimes, instead of being helped.

“I think it’s a great report,” he said. “I think if the 47 recommendations are fully implemented by all those who are required to do so, we may have the opportunity to move forward.

“I think we have to come to grips with the ongoing cultural responses from the police and to some extent council authorities for what happened between 2012 and 2018. There was a deep-rooted cultural response that still blamed an enormous amount of criminal activity. the victims of these crimes.”

Reverend Osmund-Smith added: “I really believe the only answer to that is education, education, education. And that means educating the police from the start. That’s included in the recommendations. Educating the police teachers, social workers, educate council workers and aware that the protection of our young people comes first.

“So there needs to be money available for the teams dealing with this to be reinforced with properly trained people, so that everyone has the opportunity to understand that CSE is not something to blame. from the victims.”

The Reverend Osmund-Smith said street pastors had become aware of continuing grooming issues, focused on young girls, through ‘under 18’ events held in Telford.

He said they had regularly seen older men trying to pick up girls from cars and raised those concerns as part of a review report prepared by Telford & Wrekin Council in 2016.

This was one of the reports that put Telford CSE in the spotlight several years after Operation Chalice.

Reverend Osmund-Smith said: “Street pastors were on the streets every time there was an under 18 event and week after week we saw adult night economy men rolling around in their cars.

He added: “There have been occasions when we have taken girls out of cars because we knew they would be in trouble if they stayed in those cars.

“But there was still no support.”