Charlene Downes: 19th anniversary vigil service in Blackpool tonight as campaigners call for justice for missing teen

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Blackpool teenager Charlene Downes has officially been missing for 19 years today – and campaigners calling for justice are planning a small-scale vigil in the town.

The campaigners want a full scale public inquiry into the tragic case of the teenager, who is missing, presumed dead – including a probe into child sexual exploitation in the resort.

They also want to see a new police investigation launched into the case.

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Tonight (Tuesday November 1) there will be a small vigil service at St John’s Church on Church Street, Blackpool, paying respects to Charlene.

Charlene Downes and the alleyway off Abingdon Street, Backpool,  said to be where she was last seenCharlene Downes and the alleyway off Abingdon Street, Backpool,  said to be where she was last seen
Charlene Downes and the alleyway off Abingdon Street, Backpool, said to be where she was last seen
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Ronay Crompton, who is behind the Justice for Charlene campaign, and acclaimed cold case private investigator Jen Jarvie who is looking to solve the case, say only a multi-agency investigation can bring issues into the spotlight and help prevent similar cases.

Charlene, whose background was troubled, was just 14 years old when she disappeared on November 1 2003.

Police discovered she and other girls in the area had been groomed by several men for sexual favours.

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Two men went on trial in May 2007—one accused of her murder, the other for helping to dispose of her body—but the jury failed to reach a verdict.

After a re-trial was scheduled, the accused were released in April 2008 because of concerns about the evidence gathered by Lancashire Constabulary.

Ronay, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, said: “It’s disgusting that a teenager can go missing and that various details came to light, and yet no one has been convicted of anything in relation to her case.

"We believe justice has not been served for Charlene and that it cannot just be left and forgotten about.”

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The vigil service will include a speech by Jen Jarvie, a poetry reading, an online video and the lighting of candles, and organisers say Charlene’s relatives have been informed.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “The case remains open and we would appeal for anyone with information to contact us.”

Blackpool Council says the Awaken project, set up in the wake of Charlene’s disappearance, was one of the first teams in the country to combine the resources of the police, social services and health to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation.

A spokesman said: “Since it was established in 2003 hundreds of vulnerable young people have been protected from harm and offenders brought to justice.”