Rochdale grooming gang jailed as debate over role of race rages

Case raises uncomfortable questions as it emerges police feared racism accusations for pursuing Asian gang

LAST UPDATED AT 13:49 ON Wed 9 May 2012

THE NINE men convicted of being part of a child exploitation gang have been sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to prison terms ranging from four to 19 years. The case has led to criticism of the police and social services - and the role of race in the horrific affair has proved divisive.
 
Police and social workers have been accused of failing to investigate the gang when a victim first came forward four years ago for fear of being perceived as racist, allowing the men - all of whom are of Asian descent - to prey on up to 50 young girls, The Daily Telegraph reports.  Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood acknowledged that officers could have dealt with the case "better than we did".
 
The BBC reports that Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Muslim youth-focussed Ramadhan Foundation, accused Pakistani community elders of "burying their heads in the sand" on the issue of on-street grooming. "There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community," he said.
 
"There should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals," he continued. "They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community."
 
However, Keith Vaz, a Labour MP who is chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, says race is not an issue in the case. The Daily Telegraph reports that Vaz agreed the offences committed by the gang were "absolutely appalling", but he added: "Right at the start of this trial the BNP were outside demonstrating saying that this was a race issue. I do not believe it is a race issue.
 
"What we need to do is to have a proper far-reaching, thorough investigation into these crimes and causes of these crimes," he continued. "There are a lot of questions about the way in which organisations that have care of young girls have dealt with them and allowed them to be put into these positions."
 
Martin Narey, former chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, said there was "troubling evidence" that Asians were "overwhelmingly represented" in prosecutions for street grooming and trafficking of girls in towns such as Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Oldham and Rochdale.
 
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "That is not to condemn a whole community. Most Asians would absolutely abhor what we have seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial."
 
Nazir Afzal, the chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West, reversed the original decision not to prosecute two members of the gang in 2009-2010. His team has dealt with a number of Asian-led grooming gangs in the past, and there are two more trials scheduled for later in the year.
 
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph about the Liverpool defendants, he said: "These men are not defined by their race; they are defined by their attitude to young girls. They almost feel they have a right to control these young girls because no one else will. But they do it for their own nefarious purposes. These poor girls are evil prey for evil men." · 

Disqus - noscript

Did anyone else hear the rather mealy-mouthed former head of the prison service responding to this on Radio 4 this morning?  He even admitted to having to be very careful about what he could say about this case.  Because, of course, we are not allowed to state the obvious, less we offend a particular racial group.  Keith Vaz, predictably, accused the BNP of making political mileage out of it and, in him doing so, effectively made any reference to the ethnicity of the guilty, a racist issue.  

It is a travesty when Social Services and even a former Chief Executive of Barnardos can't raise concerns, or voice an opinion for fear of the fascist Racial & Religious Hatred Act 2006.  Free speech and a right to express an opinion has now been consigned to history.  If the perpetrators had been white, the press and the Police would have been able to voice their opinions without any fear, or of accusation of racism, whatsoever.  

Dass es verboten!  Ring any bells?  Millions of Pakistanis fought alongside us, and our other allies in the second world war, against the evils of fascism (albeit as part of the Indian army at the time, since Pakistan was formed in 1947) and it would seem that our efforts were in vain - Fascism has crept in through through the back door, as a Trojan Horse containing the politically correct and the professionally insulted.

Why are they referring to these men as Asian when they are all clearly muslim? 

...because it is seen as Incitement to Racial and Religious hatred.  Everyone is too scared to mention the M word.  Ridiculous!

One batch of statistics which cannot be ignored -  are statistics which claim that prosecutions of perpetrators of child abuse, and grooming, across the UK, have seen a 60/40% ratio of White – Asian males. But, with the Asian male population in the UK being 7% isn’t this disproportionate? Which would lead to some suspect - maybe an issue needs to be addressed here?. Also, the previous 56 prosecutions, residing in the North-West of England, 84% of those were of Pakistani origin and only 6% of White origin. I'm not trying to be emotive, but these figures should be taken very, very seriously.  One thing is for sure, we must discuss all sides of this argument. We, as bloody human beings, can’t be worried, or fearful, of discussing such issues. The issue at hand is far too troubling and important. And if you disagree......grow a pair!

Statistics come from:  CEOP’s 2011 scoping study into “localised grooming”.

Asian........so they are either Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, from one of the countries in the middle east or any number of countries in the continent of Asia.

Why can't they be more precise - the men are of Pakistani origin.

For once I agree with Vaz, this isn't about race but, as the judge in the case said, religious beliefs and ideology do play a part. To conflate race, Asians and Islamic ideology as the media and others frequently do tars all Asians, be they Hindu, Sikh, Christian etc, with the same views of women and non-Muslims  as 2nd class that are woven through Islamic ideology. That is plain wrong and we need to examine exactly what part those ideological beliefs play in both these grooming cases and equally, in the terrorist plots that we are constantly told are totally unrelated to Islamic belief.

I see Jon has already made my next point about the proportion of offenders from the Islamic community. They make up approx 4% of the UK population but 12% of the prison population.

These sick people do not represent Islam, by committing acts like this they are out of the fold of Islam, shame on them, i am a practicing Muslim and condemn what they have done, it worries me that the BNP will just use this as an excuse to launch an attack on Islam. but Islam is not at fault just a bunch of dirty low sexist people taking advantage of local girls

"asians were overwhelmingly represented" in towns like derby,leeds,blackburn,oldham. The same towns that have LARGE pakistani groups within them, for gods sake lets stop the political sucking up. These scum TARGETED young white girls because they could and they also felt they could get away with it---and their race/creed played no small part in their thinking---bang them up for as long as possible then DEPORT THEM if they are born abroad, Stupid soft english liberal hearts at work AGAIN for christs sake wake-up and smell the coffee

P.S. maybe KEITH VAZ would be better off sorting out the passport fiasco for his mates the HINDUJA BROS---nice little earner in that one keith

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.