He claimed that a combination of political correctness and racial sensitivities have kept cases of child sex grooming by Asian gangs “under the radar”.
Mr Loughton made the comments in an interview for the BBC Politics Show in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, which has been investigating claims that girls as young as 12 have been targeted by organised Asian gangs.
He said: “In many cases we are dealing with some closed communities. Closed in terms of things being able to go on under the radar and away from the public glare. I think that political correctness and racial sensitivities have in the past been an issue.
“I want to send out a message loud and clear that although we have to be aware of certain characteristics of various ethnic communities and be sensitive as to how we deal with them, a BME (Black Minority Ethnic) tag is not an excuse for us not to investigate vigorously any abuse that may be going on.”
Earlier this year, the former Home Secretary Jack Straw was criticised after he suggested that some men of Pakistani origin saw white girls as “easy meat”.
But the Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said more needs to be done to find out why a minority of Asian men were drawn into a world of grooming young girls.
Lord Ahmed said: “It’s a new crime, a new trend and we have to talk about it and be robust about it . I have never been politically correct about this thing, I have always come out and condemned it.
“I have always said these people need to be brought to justice. I have been criticised by my own community because I started talking about it. We need to put it into context. Ninety eight per cent of the community are engaged in fantastic work within the UK.
“There is a small minority involved in drug related crime and this heinous crime of messing with young girls is outrageous.”
A five month investigation by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is expected to reveal that more British children have been exposed to grooming than police and social services had originally thought.
A string of vulnerable young girls were targeted for abuse by a gang in Derby. The CEOP inquiry was launched after a string of vulnerable young girls were targeted for abuse by a gang in Derby.
Victims were given alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex in cars, hotels and rented houses.
Ring leaders Mohammed Liaqat and Abid Saddique were given indeterminate jail terms in January.