WEST Mercia Police has issued a statement after a national newspaper alleged it failed to properly investigate allegations linked to the child grooming scandal in Telford.

A Sunday Mirror story has been published today claiming up to 1,000 children could have suffered in "Britain’s worst known abuse scandal" over the last 40 years - where sex gangs allegedly targeted girls as young as 11.

The Mirror reports girls were lured from their families to be drugged, beaten and raped in an epidemic that victims say is still ongoing.

In the story, the Mirror alleges West Mercia Police - the force that also cover Worcestershire - failed to investigate one recent case five times until an MP intervened.

But Martin Evans, West Mercia Police assistant Chief Constable, said all reports of child sex exploitation were taken “extremely seriously”.

"We are aware of the information the Sunday Mirror newspaper have provided to us, and can confirm that it is not new," he said.

"Police in Telford take all reports of child sexual exploitation (CSE), the systematic emotional, physical and psychological abuse of young people, and grooming, extremely seriously.

"Tackling such horrific offences is the number one priority for police in Telford and we have not only increased officer numbers to tackle this type of offending, but use all of our resources and technology available to prosecute anyone who sexually offends against children whether that offending took place today, yesterday or decades ago.

"The whole issue of offending against children has risen in profile as a result of a number of high profile cases, including Operation Chalice in 2013.

"This was one of the first national complex critical investigations into grooming offences. It centred on historic offending in Telford and Wrekin and ultimately resulted in seven men being jailed for a total of 49 years.

"Over the subsequent years we have continuously focused on this area, whilst working very closely with our communities to ensure there is confidence to report issues people become aware of.

"We work alongside health and local authority professionals as the Community Safety Partnership, which my local commander, Superintendent Tom Harding chairs. CSE is the partnership's number one priority.

"Last year government officials from the Home Office spent time visiting the area and personally paid thanks to the commitment of the staff working to protect young people at risk from sexual exploitation.

"They also recognised the strong working partnership ethos between the police, social workers and health professionals.

"The positive focus of Superintendent Harding and his team on achieving the best outcomes for victims and the force's use of intelligence to identify risk were also highlighted.

"This Home Office inspection and the Ofsted inspection have both praised the partner agencies in Telford for working so positively together to tackle the issue of CSE.

"We would strongly advise anyone concerned about CSE in Telford to visit tell-someone.org to find out more about recognising the signs and how to get help and advice."