AN investigation has been launched amid fears the Rotherham child abuse scandal could be happening in Worcestershire.

Your Worcester News can reveal how a review has been ordered by Worcestershire County Council on all the data on child exploitation to see if any patterns can be picked up from it.

The investigation, led by chief executive Clare Marchant and leader Councillor Adrian Hardman, is being done urgently and is expected to wrap up before Christmas.

The children's social care function at the council has a dedicated panel which gets reports on exploitation of children.

The chief executive and leader are examining the information it gets to ensure there is nothing to be concerned about.

It comes amid serious concerns from a UKIP Worcestershire politician, Councillor Peter Bridle, who says he has held conversations with an elected councillor in Rotherham who is adamant the problem is widespread.

Cllr Bridle said: "I recently met a councillor in Rotherham who told me about the appalling abuse that went on there.

"He said to me, that this is going on across the country. In fact his exact words were, 'it's happening where you are'.

"What has this council done to ensure this abuse is not happening here?

"Not only is it important that we investigate this, but it's important we are seen to be investigating."

Mrs Marchant said "there are things going on" at County Hall around it, citing the review.

"After Rotherham (came to light) one of the things we did was instigate a review in children's services and what information is going through that panel," she said.

"That process is ongoing and myself and the leader will be looking at that before Christmas."

Between 1997 and 2013 there was widespread child abuse in Rotherham which was covered up by the authorities.

Investigations in town began in the 1990s, although many reports were never finalised or made public.

In 2010 five men of Pakistani heritage were found guilty of a series of sexual offences against girls as young as 12.

But an investigation by The Times newspaper revealed how the exploitation was much more widespread, with the Home Affairs Select Committee criticising South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council for their handling of the abuse.

An independent inquiry then conservatively estimated that 1,400 children had been sexually abused over the 16-year period, mainly by gangs of British-Pakistani men involved in abduction, rape, torture and sex trafficking.

It led to the resignation of police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, the council's leader, chief executive and children's services boss.