Jack Straw has said that the “fundamental failure” in the Rochdale case, in which dozens of girls were groomed for sex by a group of men of Pakistani origin, lay with the police and social workers who failed to take action to protect them.
But, the former Home Secretary added, there was an added “issue here about colour,” in cases in which Asian men took advantage of white girls.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: “There is an issue of ethnicity here which can’t be ignored.
“It is true that if you go into the sex offenders wings of prisons there are proportionally more white men than Asian men. But there’s also the separate issue of group grooming in the Asian community.
“In terms of group grooming, there is an ethnic dimension to this which is Asian men and white girls, and that has to be faced by the Asian community.
“These are small communities, and people would have an idea that there are groups of men that are abusing girls in this way, and that has to be faced.”
A report into the events in Rochdale has found that police and social services missed dozens of opportunities to intervene to stop the abuse.
Girls as young as 10 were considered to have consented to sex, and were said to have made a lifestyle choice to have relations with dozens of strange men in return for money, food and drugs.
Nine members of the group were convicted of rape and other offences following a trial in May.
David Crompton, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, has been ordered to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee to answer allegations that the force withheld information about the case.
The committee will also examine whether there was a racial element to the crimes.
Last year, when the Rochdale scandal first emerged, Mr Straw claimed that some men in the Pakistani community viewed white girls as “easy meat”.
He said: “There is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men . . . who target vulnerable young white girls.
“We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.
“These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.
“So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care . . . who they think are easy meat.
“And because they’re vulnerable they ply them with gifts, they give them drugs, and then of course they’re trapped.”