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Middlesbrough takeaways the main focus in fight against suspected grooming gangs on Teesside

Throughout the 3 decades where Muslims were raping schoolgirls on an industrial scale, Muslim businesses were at the heart of drug-supply and entrapment of the schoolgirls, and the prostituting of the girls to the rest of the Muslim male community.

Takeaways are firmly at the centre of probes into Child Sexual Exploitation on Teesside.

There has been a “significant increase” in the amount of intelligence passed to Cleveland Police regarding Teesside children being sexually exploited, councillors have heard.

And a senior safeguarding figure confirmed takeaways in Middlesbrough are the main focus for investigators looking at suspected grooming gangs.

Reports previously unearthed by the Gazette revealed takeaway staff are reported to single out vulnerable girls - some in the care system - to pass around among groups of men for sex.

Those reports found “sexual exploitation happened in Teesside across every community and from all social backgrounds”.

At a meeting this week, Middlesbrough Council’s Allison Brown told councillors: “We have an issue with takeaways.”

And she said a licensing loophole makes it harder for the authority to monitor just who is running the takeaways in question.

“It is the premises that is licenced and not the person,” added the authority’s assistant director of safeguarding.

“They change hands more frequently than they are required to be licenced so keeping track of who the licensee is and whether they have received the appropriate guidance is quite tricky.”

She addressed councillors at the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel, where she also admitted there are now fears Middlesbrough “may have” domestic slavery cases.

The most common form of domestic slavery is when foreign workers are forced to carry out unpaid work in private homes.

Cleveland Police spokeswoman said there were “no cases” at present.

But in regards to child sexual exploitation, Monday’s meeting heard that while the council is now forcing Hackney taxi drivers to complete a course in keeping children safe there are concerns about non-licenced drivers.

One councillor raised concerns that, should app-hailing service Uber move into Teesside, drivers won’t be forced to undergo the same vetting.

But in terms of keeping vulnerable children safe, Allison said they are now looking to see if there are any ‘sexploitation’ hotspots using data amassed by speaking to children who have been registered as missing.

She added: “We monitor these young people very closely and look at where they have been found, who they have been with and all that information is shared.

“If we have young people who are going missing and have either been found in the same areas, (we look to see) are they being found in the same areas and are they reporting similar names.”

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