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Plans to help tackle grooming gangs have been welcomed by PCC John Campion.

The Government is to set out plans for specialist officers to help police forces with their investigations.

Legislation will also be introduced to make membership of a grooming gang an aggravating factor during sentencing.

PCC John Campion said: “In Telford, we have seen the damage grooming gangs cause when swift action isn’t taken, and their crimes go unpunished. I am committed to ensuring West Mercia Police learn from these failings.

“Since I was first elected in 2016, I have focused on child sexual exploitation. My first ever holding to account was on this important issue with the Chief Constable.

“There have now been more than 10 sessions on the subject, I have strengthened support for victims by commissioning specialist services, funded training for 18,000 people and secured £2m for more than 20 roles to provide tailored support to young people and children.

“I fully support the Government’s plans, boosting investigations and strengthening legislation to ensure grooming gangs feel the full extent of the law.

“As the voice of the public in policing, I have heard first-hand the devastating stories of victims and survivors who have had their lives torn apart by the heartless actions of abusers.

“I want to reassure you that West Mercia Police is also being proactive and building on the progress it has already made. These steps forward from the release of the Telford inquiry, along with the Government’s new plans, will go a long way to stamping out this evil in West Mercia.

“However, society as a whole must acknowledge that it’s a gender issue. The vast majority of sexual offences are caused by men. Men need to be better and do better to ensure women and girls are safe in our communities.”

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Nicola Lowery was previously a Borough Councillor on Telford & Wrekin Council and voted for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation said: “Any child can be a victim of sexual exploitation. To tackle this problem, it is imperative that the voices of victims and survivors are listened to.

“I have had the privilege to work with and hear the experiences of victims. It is important these lived experiences continue to shape change and improve services and outcomes.

“This important plan from the Government is another opportunity to drive forward the fight against these horrendous crimes that can impact communities for generations.”