This is truly shocking. The scandal arose in the first place because Muslim rapists were not being prosecuted by the authorities because of fears of being accused of, or stirring up, racism. Now the report says the exact opposite: that Muslims are being disproportionately targeted for prosecution because of media pressure. Shameful.
The children’s watchdog has been asked to give evidence to MPs about her report on organised child sex abuse that has become mired in controversy for playing down the role of Asian gangs.Source: The Times (£)
Keith Vaz, MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, said that the police response to sex gangs was still inadequate and that vulnerable young people were being let down.
“The Home Affairs Committee will continue its inquiry into this important issue, and we have called [Sue] Berelowitz before us to tell us what more can be done to tackle it,” Mr Vaz said this morning.
A series of articles published in The Times has exposed the pattern of child-sex crimes in which young white teenage girls in Rochdale, Burnley, Dewsbury, Keighley, Leeds, Carlisle, Derby, Telford, Birmingham and Oxford have been groomed by groups of mainly Pakistani men.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has expressed concern at Ms Berelowitz’s findings for not coming down more strongly on the role of Asian men, accusing it of “political correctness”.
Ms Berelowitz defended her ground-breaking report, which took two years to compile.
The Deputy Children’s Commissioner told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that there was a “bigger picture” than simply problems within one sector of society.
She told ITV’s Daybreak: “Our report found that there is that model of Pakistani men and white girls, but it’s only one model and it is extraordinarily important that everybody wakes up to the fact that there are other models of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation as well, because otherwise what we’ve found is that victims are falling through the net, and of course that perpetrators are falling through the net — they’re not being identified and apprehended.”
“So part of the wake-up call is this is not just one group of males within one community doing something — that’s part of the picture. It’s a bigger picture than that, though.”
After a two-year investigation, the report found that 2,409 children were victims of sex crimes by gangs or groups of men in a 14-month period from 2010 to 2011.
A further 16,500 young people displayed high-risk signs of exploitation.
“Each year thousands of children in England are raped and abused from as young as 11 by people seeking to humiliate, violate and control them. The impact ... is often devastating,” it said.
The report recorded but did not elaborate on the fact that more than 25 per cent of reported child sex abuse perpetrators were Asian and South-East Asian, although they represented only 6.9 per cent of the population.
Mr Gove had urged Ms Berelowitz not to be swayed by questions of prejudice and to “ask tough questions about cultural background”.
But she said that it was “irresponsible” to focus on the data which shows that Asian men are disproportionately involved in such abuse.
A Department for Education source said last night: “Political correctness will not get in the way of preventing and uncovering child abuse.”
And a former Labour MP said that it was wrong to ignore the importance of the statistic that is “staring us in the face”.
Ms Berelowitz said that her inquiry should act as “a wake-up call” because it had uncovered for the first time the full extent of sexual exploitation in England.
“The victims come from all ethnic groups, as do the perpetrators, contrary to what some may wish to believe. It’s happening everywhere, from lovely, leafy places to inner cities. There are people preying on children all over the country. There are a number of different patterns.
“The only unifying factor [about group offenders] is that, with rare exceptions, they’re all male. The only ethnic [offender] group that featured across all our site visits was white males.”
The report says the “attitude of some men and boys towards women and girls is one of entitlement, ownership, power and control”. But it chooses not to examine whether such attitudes are more prevalent within certain minority ethnic communities.
In its long-running investigation, The Times has exposed many examples of groups of men grooming girls aged from 12 to 16 for serial sexual abuse.
Most victims were white and most offender groups, including high-profile cases from Rochdale, Rotherham and Derby, involved men of Pakistani heritage who shared the victims among friends, relatives and colleagues.
Today’s report does not accept that street-grooming sex offences are more common among a criminal sub-section of the British Pakistani community than the population as a whole. It also fails to provide a regional breakdown of the various crime patterns that it identifies.
Ms Berelowitz criticised the media for “prejudice and stereotyping” in its “selective” coverage of offender networks and accused The Times of being fixated on white victims and offenders of Pakistani origin.
However, the report’s own statistics reveal that Asian men are disproportionately represented among identified groups involved in sexual exploitation of children across England.
In a country whose population is 87 per cent white and 7 per cent Asian, offenders whose ethnicity was recorded during the inquiry were 43 per cent white and 33 per cent Asian.
The report cites media pressure after infamous court cases to explain why police and childcare professionals are increasingly identifying Pakistani offender groups and white female victims, leading to a rising number of prosecutions.
Without providing any evidence, it states that there is “no doubt that data is gathered more assiduously on perpetrators identified by professionals as ‘Asian’, ‘Pakistani’ or ‘Kurdish’.”
Ms Berelowitz said that Scotland Yard’s investigation into sex offences allegedly committed by Jimmy Savile and other men offered proof “that white males act in concert”.
She said that the high proportion of Asian abusers reflected local demographics. “When people focus on that one model they are unfortunately not identifying all victims because they think that all victims are white girls.”
Ann Cryer, the former Labour MP for Keighley, who has had a central role in exposing group sexual abuse, said: “I can understand why [Ms Berelowitz] is afraid of being called a racist ... but this is about protecting young victims. We cannot ignore the statistics staring us in the face. We need to look at ... perpetrators and ask what is in their background that makes them behave this way.”
Andrew Flanagan, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Sex offenders come from all backgrounds but if there is a problem with one community we must address it, not just turn a blind eye.”
UPDATE: Berelowitz has written a Paki whitewash article in the Guardian.
This is a not a problem within one particular faith or ethnic group: our evidence shows the reality is much more troubling. We found the perpetrators of abuse tended to mirror the makeup of the local population, so where the population was mainly white, the abusers were mainly white; and where other ethnic groups lived, the perpetrators were likewise. There have been recent high-profile cases of Pakistani men abusing white girls, but focusing purely on this pattern of abuse is dangerous. It has inevitably meant that both victims and abusers from other ethnicities have been overlooked. Those who perpetrate these crimes come from every community and every level in society.Source: Guardian
The father of a girl who was raped and ruthlessly used for sex by men has criticised a report on sex-grooming gangs for “failing to confront the truth” about attitudes towards white girls held by some men of Pakistani origin.Source: The Times (£)
He said that the report, published yesterday, exposed the scale of child sexual exploitation across England but missed a chance “to grasp the nettle of the British Pakistani problem”. Hindu and Sikh groups also complained that Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, ignored their concerns about Muslim men targeting Hindu and Sikh girls.
Her report into child sex crimes involving groups and gangs found that 2,409 children were used for sex by adults between 2010 and 2011. It revealed that 33 per cent of the 1,266 group offenders whose ethnicities were known were Asian, mostly British Pakistanis. Only 2 per cent of the general population is of Pakistani heritage.
Pakistani men were also significantly over-represented among arrests and prosecutions during the past two years of men alleged to have been members of street-grooming networks.
The report did not examine the role of ethnicity and culture, stressing that offenders and victims were of all ethnicities and that most offenders were white.
The father of a girl from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, who was subjected to relentless abuse by young British Pakistanis when she was 13 and 14, questioned the report’s racial squeamishness. “I’m sure it’s right that most child abusers are white, but when you look at where we live, and at places like Rochdale, and you know these groups have been operating for at least ten years, you come close to despair,” he said.
“The truth is that some British Pakistani men think these girls are worthless. This report has missed a chance to look at why this has been happening in so many northern towns.”
In August, a delegation of British Asian faith organisations met Ms Berelowitz to discuss long-standing concerns that some British Pakistani men were grooming Hindu and Sikh girls.
Ashish Joshi, chairman of the Sikh Media Monitoring Group and an adviser to the Sikh Awareness Society, said that he was outraged that the report failed to address the issue. “No one wants to talk about the fact that these men don’t view non-Muslim girls as worthy of any respect,” he said.
Kris Hopkins, a Conservative MP whose constituency in Keighley, West Yorkshire, has experienced severe child sexual exploitation problems, described the Berelowitz report as “an opportunity lost”. He said that the disproportionate involvement of Pakistani-origin men was “worthy of much deeper examination”, and added: “The report has fallen into the trap of dancing a politically correct tune around this reality instead of confronting it head on. That is one of the reasons we are not making the level of progress in tackling the problem that we should be.”
Although government sources said that Ms Berelowitz’s report was “half-baked” and “hysterical”, the Prime Minister said: “This is a very serious issue. It is an interim report which we need to study very carefully.”