Mark Whitehead 03 April 2023

Child sexual exploitation taskforce announced

Child sexual exploitation taskforce announced   image
Image: I T S / Shutterstock.com.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced the establishment of a new taskforce of specialist police officers to help investigate child sexual exploitation and grooming.

It will be made up of officers with extensive experience of grooming gang investigations and will ’put more perpetrators behind bars’, Mr Sunak said.

The police will record data on ethnicity to make sure suspects cannot evade justice because of cultural sensitivities.

Home secretary Suella Braverman prompted an angry reaction at the weekend when she singled out British Pakistani men over concerns about grooming gangs and accused authorities of turning a blind eye to signs of abuse because of fears of being labelled racist.

She said the men held cultural values ‘totally at odds’ with British values and regarded women in a ‘demeaning and illegitimate way’ while behaving in an ‘outdated and frankly heinous’ manner.

A Home Office report published in 2020 concluded that most child sexual abuse gangs are made up of white men under the age of 30, adding that there was not enough evidence to suggest members of grooming gangs were disproportionately more likely to be Asian or black.

Mr 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.’

Sir Peter Wanless, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) chief executive, said: 'Child sexual exploitation by organised networks is one pernicious form of abuse and it’s welcome to see the Government focus on disrupting perpetrators and protecting victims. This must be backed up with funding for services to help child victims recover and support for a justice system that is struggling to cope.

'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 blindspots that prevent victims from being identified.'

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