Britain’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has published a long-awaited paper on the racial and other characteristics of child sex grooming gangs following both recent and non-recent high-profile cases.
She said the paper would help to “better understand any community and cultural factors relevant to tackling offending“ to protect children from abuse, deliver justice to victims, and ”restore the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to confront this issue.”
The government said, however, that the “available evidence on the characteristics of offenders” was limited.
“Some studies have indicated an over-representation of Asian and Black offenders,” Patel said in the paper.
“However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the ethnicity of offenders as existing research is limited and data collection is poor,” she added.
“That is why the government’s forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy will commit to improving our understanding of child sexual abuse—including around ethnicity,” she said.
High Profile Non-Recent CasesIt was the very high profile non-recent cases including in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, that prompted the production of Patel’s paper.
In 2015, the National Crime Agency (NCA) set up the largest operation of its kind to investigate 16 years of abuses in Rotherham but did not secure its first convictions until 2017.
Children were groomed, trafficked, and raped across the UK, but offenders were not prosecuted reportedly owing to fears around race.
In Halifax, West Yorkshire, it was estimated that as many as 100 men of British-Pakistani origin could have been involved in child abuse between 2006 and 2011.
In 2016, 18 men were convicted for rape, trafficking, and sexual activity with children, and in January 2018 a further 20 men were arrested for their involvement in the Halifax gang.
The over 200 offences they are charged with include 141 of rape and were allegedly perpetrated over a 13-year period between 1999 and 2012.
All the alleged offences took place in the Kirklees, Bradford, and Wakefield areas of West Yorkshire and were committed against girls between the ages of 13 and 16.
Nevertheless, Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief’s Council lead on child protection, said that “Since 2014 the police service’s response to group-based child sexual exploitation has significantly improved.”
“I remain committed to continue this work,” he said.
“What happened to these children remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience,” Patel said.