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Newcastle sex ring victims suffered 'profoundly racist crime', says former CPS chief

Lord Macdonald warns of 'major problem in particular communities' of men viewing young white girls as 'trash'

Jon Sharman
Thursday 10 August 2017 11:54 BST
Ken Macdonald on Newcastle sex ring: "This is a profoundly racist crime"

Britain must confront the scourge of "profoundly racist" crime exemplified by the Operation Shelter grooming case, a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

Lord Macdonald's comments come following the conviction of 17 men and one woman in Newcastle, after girls and young women were groomed, drugged and raped over a period of years.

The Liberal Democrat peer and former Director of Public Prosecutions, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme there was "a major problem in particular communities" of men viewing young white girls as "trash" and available for sex.

And there had previously been a "reluctance" to investigate such crimes, he said, agreeing with presenter John Humphrys when he categorised them as "by and large, Muslim men who have been targeting white girls".

He said: "There has been, in the past, a reluctance to investigate a category of crime that people might believe attaches to a particular community in circumstances where men may be targeting young women.

"The fact that these sorts of cases are being brought successfully demonstrates that those sorts of so-called taboos no longer exist.

"But there's obviously a serious issue about the way that young women are regarded in these cases—regarded as trash, regarded as available for sex.

"And this seems to be a recurring theme. This is a major problem in particular communities and it has to be confronted not just by law enforcement but by communities themselves.

"This is obviously disgusting and outrageous behaviour and it's completely unacceptable. It's not something that law enforcement itself solely can deal with.

"Not all sex crime belongs in a particular community, but there is a particular issue about some men in some communities who feel that these young girls are trash who are available for sex."

The problem must be recognised "for what it is, which is profoundly racist crime," he added.

His comments are likely to be criticised for implying a link between religion and a propensity to commit certain crimes.

On Wednesday the last of four trials under Northumbria Police's Operation Shelter was concluded. Twenty young women had given evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014.

A total of 17 men and one woman have now been convicted of, or have admitted, charges including rape, supplying drugs and inciting prostitution.

Those prosecuted were from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.

Victims were conned into thinking they were in a relationship with their abuser, who would then pass them round their network to be used for sex, sometimes with the encouragement of the class B drug M-Kat, or cannabis.

Additional reporting by agencies

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