Exploitation fight continues

Wendi Ogle-Welbourn

Wendi Ogle-Welbourn

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Children in Peterborough will be kept safe from sexual exploitation as a result of work done on Operarion Erle, a council chief has pledged.

Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, corporate director of People and Communities at Peterborough City Council, said work was being done with a number of agencies across the city to prevent further abuse.

She said: “We are working with a number of agencies across Peterborough to raise awareness of sexual exploitation.

“The reason Operation Erle has been a success is because of the way the police, the council and the child safeguarding board have worked together.

“On the back of stories of child sexual exploitation in places like Rochdale and Oxford we actively went out looking for it in Peterborough. We thought if it is happening in places like Rochdale and Oxford, it must be happening in Peterborough.

“When we found it, we dealt with it decisively.”

“We recognised the police and council cannot deal with this on their own, and we have been working with the public and other agencies and organisations to help them know what signs to look out for in terms of child sexual exploitation, and to ask them to be more vigilant looking out for signs and to report it.

“For example we have worked with 460 taxi drivers in the city - it is now mandatory for them to have training in child sexual exploitation issues to get their licences.

“We have already had a couple of drivers coming forward to raise areas they are concerned about.”

She said in each school in the city there was a dedicated teacher to help with issues around sexual exploitation, and messages had been given in Mosques around the city. Council staff have even been speaking to hotels and hostels to make them aware of the signs something may be wrong.

Mrs Ogle-Welbourn also paid tribute to the victims who gave evidence, and the social workers who had supported them, as they were key in bringing ‘vicious’ Mohammed Khubaib to justice.

She said: “If it hadn’t been for the victims’ courage of giving evidence on the stand we wouldn’t have got the result we did.

“This is an important day for these young women. It is important because they have been believed. And because of this they can now get on with their lives and properly begin their recovery.

“That recovery may take a long time but we will help and support them in every way we can.

“I also want to pay tribute to the social workers who supported these girls to actually get the evidence we needed to get the case to court, and bring this case to trial.”