Bucks County Council has apologised for ‘letting down’ the victims of child sexual exploitation in Aylesbury.
The statement from David Johnston, director for children’s services, comes after one of the victim’s fathers accused social services of failing to act on his concerns about his daughter.
Mr Johnston said: “We are as appalled, as all parents and the community of Buckinghamshire will be, by the despicable acts of cruel abuse committed by those found guilty at the Old Bailey today.
“These girls were just children when they became victims to such manipulation that lasted so many years.
“I want to thank each of these young women for taking the brave step to come forward, to speak to the police and re-live their horrific experiences in court to bring these men to justice.
“On behalf of the Council, I would also like to apologise to both of them for letting them down during this period in their lives. We know a great deal more about child sexual exploitation than we did back then and I hope that young people who are worried about themselves or someone they know will have the same courage to come forward. We will do everything in our power to help them.
“The Council has been working hard to prevent child sexual exploitation in Buckinghamshire. Ten years ago we set up a street based scheme with Barnardo’s, called R U Safe, to work as specialists with victims of child sexual exploitation and those who are worried about being exploited. We are working closely with the police, schools and health colleagues to reduce sexual exploitation and the impact this has on our children and young people.
“We are also raising awareness with everyone in Buckinghamshire to highlight the secretive nature of sexual exploitation and how to spot the signs to stop it. Through this work we have helped and supported many young people but unfortunately despite our best efforts and the manipulative nature of this crime we have not reached them all.
“Child sexual exploitation is a secretive crime where victims often do not see themselves as victims. I want to reassure all young people and families that we are dedicated to tackling all forms of abuse wherever it happens and will investigate all concerns fully with the police. If you are worried about something or someone, talk to us. We will listen, advise and support you. Contact our First Response team, Barnardo’s R U Safe team or the police.”