Nine men have been convicted of conspiracy to have sex with underage girls. The offences took place in Heywood, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, UK.
A clash of cultures and police incompetence
Sky News reports “The gang had denied having sex with underage girls, but the jury simply didn’t believe them. They were all of Pakistani or Afghan origin and their victims were young, white and vulnerable.”
Back in August 2008 one of the girls was arrested after a scuffle at a take-away in Heywood and brought to the police station, where she reported to officers that a gang of men was abusing her. However, the police took no action.
Sky News reports “At the time the Crown Prosecution Service made a judgement that the case should not proceed and the abuse continued.”
The reporter goes on to say “It was a critical error and the Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating.”
Scared of being called ‘racist’
"This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness. They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them." Ann Cryer, the former Labour MP for Keighley, said of the police and social workers.
In the UK, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ)
, which is the union for those who work in the media industry, has rules, guidelines and a code of conduct that all members must adhere to. Some of these, such as the ‘Race Reporting’ guidelines would have made it difficult or impossible for journalists to highlight such a sensitive issue without risking disciplinary action.
Victims’ bravery commended
Appearing on the BBC, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood of Greater Manchester Police said, “These victims have been through the most horrendous of crimes and I just want to commend their bravery in relation to the ordeal they’ve had to go through; a long number of weeks in court and they’ve had to go through a lot of trauma. In relation to the offenders, I condemn them from the highest level. These are the most vulnerable in our society and they have been preyed upon by adults who should know better.”
He went on to say, “this is the first time in UK history that we’ve had trafficking within the UK. This is a new offense and will be seen as a significant way forward in tackling child abuse.”
An issue first highlighted by the British National Party (BNP)
Nick Griffin, MEP and Chairman of the BNP
who first raised the issue back in 2001 and was taken to court for doing so, congratulated the police involved in the investigation but raised the question as to why only nine offenders had been charged, when the prosecution evidence from some of the victims was that that they had been forced to have sex with “Thousands of men”.
He highlighted the case of Charlene Downes from Blackpool, North West England, which he described as the “worse police failing of all” as he believes that the “police know who is responsible for her grooming, rape and murder, but have repeatedly refused to follow up the leads that could allow a successful prosecution”.
The British National Party has called for a ‘flash demo’ at 9am on Wednesday, 9 May outside Liverpool Crown Court.
Various groups held demonstrations earlier in the year, on 6 February 2012, outside Liverpool Crown Court
to protest against the child grooming gangs.