Telford MP, Lucy Allan has expressed concern at West Mercia Police’s decision to place highly regarded Baptist Minister, Keith Osmund-Smith on leave from his role as a police chaplain, whilst conducting an investigation into his position.
Keith who is the Minister at Madeley Baptist Church is also chaplain to Telford and Wrekin Borough Council and co-ordinates the successful Telford Street Pastors.
Recently, Keith spoke to the Sunday Mirror newspaper regarding information passed on by the street pastors to the police.
Lucy has previously spent time with the Telford Street Pastors seeing first-hand the difference they make in supporting people who might be vulnerable late at night.
Lucy Allan MP said: “I am becoming concerned about the local approach to CSE in Telford. The Street Pastors regularly give up their weekends to help vulnerable people on the street. They are held in high regard by residents. Inevitably Keith will have a view as he sees first hand, what happens on Telford’s streets. That he should be investigated for expressing a view is surprising.
“Then we’ve seen the Lead Member for Children’s Services criticising newspaper reports and others, for covering this issue.
“We have also seen those who hold the most senior positions of responsibility in the borough, all putting their names to a robust letter to the Home Secretary saying there is no need for an independent review of CSE in Telford. Taken together, this suggests grounds for concern.
“The facts are Telford has the highest level of CSE in the country. Whilst some good work has and is being carried out there is still a lot more to do, to ensure the safety of children in the Borough.
“There needs to be major shift in outlook on CSE both locally and nationally. Victims do not yet feel they are being heard. Investigating Keith Osmund-Smith who does so much for the vulnerable represents a backwards step in encouraging people to speak out.
“By facing up to CSE, talking about it and breaking down the taboo we can offer the support needed to existing victims and prevent more young people becoming victims.”