Child sex abuse ‘widespread in UK’ – not just in Asian areas

A two-year inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children is set to reveal abuse across the country

Children are being sexually exploited by gangs in communities in Britain regardless of the ethnicity of the perpetrators or their victims, investigators have warned.

The results of a two-year inquiry by the Children's Commissioner, due to be published in November, will debunk the myth that the crime is confined to Asian areas in northern mill towns.

The failure of policymakers to understand the pervasive nature of the problem could lead to more innocent victims being abused, investigators warned.

This week, eight men who plied underage girls with drink and drugs before abusing them were jailed for a total of 52 years at Derby Crown Court. Judge John Gosling told the predominantly white gang they had taken advantage of vulnerable girls to "satisfy your middle-aged desires to have sex with them."

In a separate case, heard at Reading Crown Court last week a nationwide paedophile gang was jailed for 35 years for hosting sex parties where underage victims were filmed being assaulted by four men. The gang included a former farmer, a bank manager, a Scout leader and a member of the Household Cavalry.

The warnings followed the publication yesterday of an independent report which found that a series of failures and missed opportunities allowed a gang of nine men to continue abusing dozens of girls – some of them in local authority care – in Rochdale, Greater Manchester for nearly four years before they were jailed in May.

The report by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board concluded that social workers failed to pass on intelligence to police that could have led to their earlier arrest. It said professionals were too ready to accept the abuse as consensual behaviour or the result of children making their own choices.

Failures in training of front-line staff and "flaws" in the response of police and prosecutors to victims were also highlighted.

Deputy children's commissioner Sue Berelowitz said she was "far from surprised at the revelations of horrific acts of child sexual exploitation".

She said: "In our two-year inquiry into child sexual exploitation, we are continuing to uncover what is happening to far too many vulnerable children and young people..."

The extent of child sexual abuse is still largely unknown with increasing publicity and awareness by authorities giving the impression of a growing problem. Figures published by the children's protection charity, NSPCC, in 2010 however suggested that coerced sexual acts against under 16s had declined from 6.8 per cent in 1998-99 to five per cent in 2009.

Jon Brown of the NSPCC said abusers needed to know that their chances of being caught was increasing.

Mr Brown said that while there were intensified problems in certain areas of the country the reality was more complex. "Child sexual exploitation takes a lot of different forms and is part of a much bigger picture. It is widespread across the UK. It is a problem in cities, towns and rural areas," he said.

Figures from Greater Manchester Police have revealed that 95 per cent of those on its sex offenders' register were white.

Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre, said more understanding was needed. "We are still not in the place that we want to be which is where every front-line practitioner in the police or the children's services is aware of the issues associated with this offending, knows the signs and knows what to do about it," he said.

"If you paint a picture that this kind of offending is only perpetrated by British Pakistani men for example you might reduce victims' awareness that it may be perpetrated by other people and put children at risk."

Former children's minister Tim Loughton, who in the summer, announced urgent reforms to protect children in care from grooming gangs warned the problem was not confined to Rochdale but was going on "beneath the radar" in communities across the country. But he said authorities were often unwilling to act because of "political correctness."

In numbers

5% Of under 16s were coerced into sexual acts in 2009, down from

6.8% In 1998, according to the NSPCC

95 Percentage of people on the Greater Manchester Police's sex offenders' register who are white

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before