BRADFORD Council’s leader has not ruled out having a public inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children in the district, but says it would have to wait.

A mother from Keighley is organising a petition calling for an investigation into CSE and has accused Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe of failing to back her call.

Angela Sinfield, of Ingrow, who has collected more than 2,000 signatures, claimed the Labour leader was “out of touch.”

But Cllr Hinchcliffe insisted any such inquiry should happen after the release of a serious case review into a Keighley CSE case which led to 12 men being jailed for a total of 140 years.

She said: “I wouldn’t rule out a public inquiry if one were needed, but now isn’t the right time for one.

“In the next six weeks the independent serious case review report will be published on the high profile Child Sexual Exploitation case in Keighley, where 12 men were convicted.

“It’s important this report and its findings are scrutinised publicly and that people have the opportunity as a result of that report to see what actions are being taken and also what else needs to be done to keep our children safe.”

The gang of 12 Keighley men were locked up earlier this year for raping a vulnerable Keighley schoolgirl, or having sexual activity with her. The girl was aged 13 or 14 at the time.

The alleged ringleader, 18-year-old drug dealer Arif Choudhury, is thought to be in Bangladesh and was not prosecuted.

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “No one can hear the stories of victims and their families without being horrified by the magnitude of the crimes against them.

“I’ve met with Mrs Sinfield and I asked for her to meet the Bradford District police commander and the multi agency CSE hub team so she can talk directly to the professionals who are now dealing with current and historic CSE cases.

“I’ve not instructed any councillor within the Labour Group on how they should react to Mrs Sinfield’s petition.

“Reports on CSE, including facts and figures, have been discussed at the council’s Executive and District Area Committees, and scrutinised at Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, all of which are public meetings.”

Anyone with concerns about the safety of a child, should contact police.

Court case recap

A gang of 12 men who raped and took “terrible and heartless sexual advantage” of a vulnerable Keighley schoolgirl were locked up for more than 140 years in February. 

Ten of the men were convicted of raping the girl in the town when she was aged between 13 and 14. Another man was found guilty of sexual activity with her. The 12th man pleaded guilty to rape and sexual activity with a child. 
The trial heard how the teenager was repeatedly raped by the men in encounters arranged by a violent drug dealer over a period of 13 months between 2011 and 2012. The dealer, described as the “evil mastermind” of the group, Arif Choudhury, is thought to have fled to Bangladesh.

Choudhury, 18, and formerly of Victoria Avenue, Keighley, was accused by the girl of raping her in the grounds of a Keighley church when she was 13 after she refused to sell drugs for him. On one occasion, she was gang-raped by five of the defendants. 

The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Roger Thomas QC, said the men had been “heartless and demeaning” when the girl demanded pity and understanding. 

“They saw her as a pathetic figure who had no worth and who served no other purpose than to be an object that they could sexually misuse and cast aside.”