THE man who brought the high-profile prosecution against a grooming gang in Rochdale has backed calls for an inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Keighley and Bradford.

Nazir Afzal, former chief of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West, was the main speaker at a conference into CSE organised by Keighley-based solicitors Makin Dixon.

Mr Afzal said he was in favour of a inquiry into CSE in Bradford district as long as it was quick and not resource-intensive.

Keighley-based campaigner Angela Sinfield, who also attended the conference and is campaigning for this same inquiry, said she was "delighted" that Mr Afzal had publicly supported her stance.

Mr Afzal said: “I personally think if the public want it, and certainly the practitioners here seem to want it, then they should have it.

“I’m not one to throw lots of money – the child abuse inquiry nationally has got four or five years of evidence taking and is going to cost tens of millions of pounds. I’d rather spend that money on protecting children.

“But there is no reason why something relatively quick, relatively focused, can’t take place here to enable victims to talk about their experiences, survivors to talk about their experiences, for practitioners to talk about what they've found, and for people to think this is where we are now – this is our benchmark – now what do we do.

"Bradford will undoubtedly have hundreds of victims, some of whom have had justice, many of whom will have simply been ignored or not listened to.”

The conference at Bradford's Midland Hotel also heard from Sammy Woodhouse, a victim of the Rotherham gang, an affected parent whose daughter was groomed as a teenager, and from Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation.

Commenting afterwards, Mrs Sinfield, from Ingrow, said it had been extremely moving to hear the testimony of the mother whose own family had been blighted by CSE.

"We're talking about something that is organised crime, and it has exactly the same effect on different people," she said.

"I'm absolutely delighted that Nazir has publicly called for this inquiry. It's a fantastic step forward."

Earlier this year Bradford Council announced there would not be an independent inquiry into child sex grooming in the district.

Following the completion of a serious case review into the case of a girl who was raped by a gang in Keighley, the council said that an inquiry would not be of benefit in providing new information.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “My understanding is that this event was organised by a private solicitors firm, not by any statutory agency, and focused on cases that happened outside our district.

“Our view regarding the need for a public inquiry in Bradford is that our resources are better spent on tackling CSE so we can protect young people and bring perpetrators to justice.

"We and the police spend an increasing amount every year on tackling this terrible crime."

Michael Jameson, the council's strategic director of children’s services, said: “We've been very open and clear in reporting our progress on CSE and how we are working as a partnership.

"This scrutiny has involved meetings with CSE campaigners, televised scrutiny in public and we've referred ourselves to the Professor Alexis Jay Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

“Protecting our children and young people is top priority for the council."