Rishi Sunak Tells Police They Cannot Ignore Ethnicity of Grooming Gangs
David Wilcock and Martin Beckford, Daily Mail, April 3, 2023
Rishi Sunak has told police not to allow ‘cultural sensitivities’ to prevent the prosecution of ethnic minority grooming gangs.
The Prime Minister is stepping up the pre-election battle over law and order with action to tackle the sexual abuse of women and girls.
He last night vowed to ‘stamp out’ grooming gangs – and accused ‘political correctness’ of letting them them proliferate.
But his comments, and those of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have sparked a furious row with charities and the opposition.
Mrs Braverman yesterday singled out ‘gangs of British Pakistani men who have worked in child abuse rings or networks’ to target ‘vulnerable white English girls’.
But a Home Office report in 2020 said that members off grooming gangs are ‘most commonly white’.
Asked if the focus on British-Asian grooming gangs was appropriate, Rishi Sunak told reporters today: ‘All forms of child sexual exploitation carried out by whomever are horrific and wrong, but with the specific issue of grooming gangs we have had several independent inquiries look at the incidents here in Rochdale, but in Rotherham and Telford.
‘What is clear is that when victims and other whistle-blowers came forward their complaints were often ignored by social workers, local politicians, or even the police. The reason they were ignored was due to cultural sensitivity and political correctness. That is not right.’
The Prime Minister added: ‘These crimes are horrific and that is why the actions we are announcing today are right and they have been welcomed by people, and I have been speaking to survivors today and others involved.
‘They will make a big difference in helping us root out the evil perpetrated by grooming gangs.’
Mrs Braverman and the PM visited an NSPCC centre in Leeds this morning, hours after the charity’s chief executive criticised her comments.
Sir Peter Wanless, who joined the PM and the Home Secretary in Yorkshire, welcomed the Government’s ‘focus’ on the issue but added: ‘It’s also vital we remember that any child can be a victim of child sexual exploitation and adult perpetrators do not just come from one background.
‘Sexual predators will target the most vulnerable and accessible children in society and there must be a focus on more than just race so we do not create new blind spots that prevent victims from being identified.’
Speaking at the meeting of the taskforce, Mr Sunak said child sex abuse was ‘a huge failing, both morally and practically’, adding: ‘The problem is more prevalent in our communities than people have been comfortable acknowledging, and that is why as PM I vowed a crackdown to bring the perpetrators of this awful crime to justice.’
Experienced specialist police and members of the National Crime Agency will help local investigations, and new laws will give judges the power to pass tougher sentences on the leaders of child abuse rings.
Experts will track suspects down using ‘cutting-edge intelligence’, including their ethnicity details, Downing Street said, to make sure they cannot ‘evade justice because of cultural sensitivities’.
It follows scandals in which the organised sexual exploitation of thousands of children in towns including Rotherham, Telford and Rochdale went unchecked because officials feared being branded racist or fuelling the far-Right.
The PM, who is due to meet members of the taskforce as well as survivors of grooming gangs in Leeds and Greater Manchester today, said last night: ‘The safety of women and girls is paramount.
‘For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women. We will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs.’
Mrs Braverman, who has pledged to introduce mandatory reporting of suspected abuse for professionals working with children, said thousands of youngsters had been robbed of their childhoods because state agencies including ‘social workers, teachers, the police’ had turned ‘a blind eye to these signs of abuse out of political correctness, out of fear of being called racist’.
She told the BBC: ‘Some of these councillors, senior politicians in Labour-run areas, over a period of years, absolutely failed to take action because of cultural sensitivities.’
Previous Home Office-commissioned research found most group child sex offenders are men under the age of 30 and the majority are white.
It also found that there is not enough evidence to suggest members of grooming gangs are more likely to be Asian or black than other ethnicities.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC: ‘It is right that ethnicity should not be a bar, and political correctness should not get in the way of prosecutions.
‘But the vast majority of sexual abuse cases do not involved those of ethnic minorities and so I am all for clamping down on any kind of case, but if we are going to be serious we have to be honest about what the overlook is.’
On plans for a duty to report incidents of grooming, Sir Keir said he ‘called for that in 2013’.
He added: ‘That is ten years ago and this Government has been in power now for 13 years.
‘That is a decade lost and I think the Prime Minister and others have to really explain why they have wasted that decade.’
As Director of Public Prosecutions in 2012, Sir Keir said: ‘In a number of cases, particularly in cases involving groups, there’s clearly an issue of ethnicity that has to be understood and addressed.’