Grooming 'cannot be simplified on ethnic lines'

The sexual exploitation of children cannot be "simplified along ethnic lines where the victims constitute one ethnicity and offenders another", the head of the UK's child protection agency said today.







Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre, launched an investigation into on-street grooming after former home secretary Jack Straw accused some Pakistani men in Britain of seeing white girls as "easy meat" for sexual abuse.



The "thematic assessment" will establish "whether it is accurate to identify any patterns of offending, victimisation or vulnerability within these cases", and will report in three to six months, the unit said.



But Mr Davies said: "Child sexual exploitation is not exclusive to any single culture, community, race or religion - it cuts across all communities.



"Neither can it be simplified along ethnic lines where the victims constitute one ethnicity and offenders another.



"We need to continue to build our understanding about the different types of threats faced by children across a range of environments."









Mr Davies said "a number of recent events" prompted him to launch the inquiry into on-street grooming, including Operation Retriever, which prompted Mr Straw to make his comments.



The Blackburn MP said it was a "specific problem" in the Pakistani community which needed to be "more open" about the reasons behind it.



He spoke out after the ringleaders of a gang which subjected a string of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults were jailed indefinitely.



Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were sentenced to a minimum of eight and 11 years respectively at Nottingham Crown Court for raping and sexually abusing their victims, often after giving them alcohol or drugs.



They were the prime movers in a group of men who befriended girls aged 12 to 18 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex.



Mr Straw's comments, on BBC2's Newsnight, sparked a furious backlash from a senior Labour colleague and charities.



Children's charity Barnardo's, Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation and retired detective chief superintendent Max McLean, who led a previous investigation into sexual exploitation involving young girls in Leeds, all said Mr Straw was wrong to highlight one community.



Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, described Mr Straw's comments as "pretty dangerous" and insisted the case was not symbolic of any "cultural problem".



Today, Mr Vaz said Ceop will be asked to give evidence on its inquiry to the committee.



"A thorough and comprehensive national investigation on street grooming is urgently needed," he said.



"A full investigation will give the police the information they need to target the criminals and criminal networks involved in this hideous crime."







But former Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell said Mr Straw's comments were "true" and the MP was "very brave" to speak out amid fears of being branded racist.



"What Jack Straw has said so carefully is true," he told the Lancashire Telegraph.



"There is a problem with some members of the Pakistani community targeting young women in this way.



"There must be a debate, not on his right to make the comments but on the issue itself because if we can't do that then we can't be honest about the issues that currently affect our communities."



Mr Gradwell added that in the past police and others could not speak out about Asian sex gangs for fear of being seen as racist, especially in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry which said the Metropolitan Police were "institutionally racist".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor