UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launched a new Grooming Gangs Taskforce this week with an unequivocal message that he would not allow political correctness to stand in the way of bringing criminals who prey on vulnerable children and women to justice.
Sunak said: “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.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman spelt out that the perpetrators of such crimes are “groups of men, almost all British Pakistani” as she launched a mandatory reporting consultation, making it a legal requirement for adults working with children to report a child at risk of abuse.
The decisive action was welcomed by the British Indian diaspora, including groups such as Insight UK that have long campaigned for tougher action against these grooming gangs.
On a tour of Rochdale, a town rocked by the issue over the years, the Prime Minister was asked about the issue of the ethnicity of these grooming gangs and he pointed to several inquiries that have taken place into these crimes.
“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,” he said.
Braverman, during the course of a series of television interviews over the weekend, was also categorical about the issue: “The perpetrators are groups of men, almost all British Pakistani, who hold cultural attitudes completely incompatible with British values.
“They have been left unchallenged both within their communities and by wider society, despite their activities being an open secret.”
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Led by the police and supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK’s new Grooming Gangs Taskforce will be made up of officers with extensive experience of undertaking such investigations. They will provide crucial support to forces across the country to root out grooming gangs and put more perpetrators behind bars.
Data analysts will work alongside the taskforce using cutting edge data and intelligence to identify the types of criminals who carry out these offences, including police recorded ethnicity data. This will include better data on the make-up of grooming gangs, including ethnicity, to make sure suspects cannot hide behind cultural sensitivities as a way to evade justice, Downing Street has said.
Meanwhile, evidence will be gathered towards Mandatory Reporting – one the key recommendations in an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – and be rolled out to support adults “to call out child sexual abuse without fear”.
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“The despicable abusers must be brought to justice. They should not be able to hide. And they must face the full force of the law for their crimes. That’s why I’m introducing a mandatory reporting duty and launching a call for evidence,” said Braverman.
The UK government has also pledged harsher jail terms for such criminals, with legislation to be introduced to make being the leader of or involved in a grooming gang a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing.