Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Grooming Gangs: The Making of a National Scandal

Posted by M. C. on July 20, 2022

How the British state turned a blind eye to the rape of thousands of children.

One of the markers of a civilised and compassionate society is the extent to which its public institutions prioritise the safety of its most vulnerable citizens. But when it comes to tackling child sexual exploitation, Britain is failing spectacularly. A toxic mixture of racial identity politics and victim-blaming tendencies among the authorities has left vulnerable children – many of whom have experienced family breakdown, parental neglect and domestic violence – exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation.

Must be Politically Correct old chap.

By Rakib Ehsan

The report into grooming gangs in Telford in the West Midlands, published last week, told an all-too-familiar story. Groups of men, of largely Pakistani heritage, sexually abused young girls for years while the authorities, fearful of appearing racist, did nothing.

This ought to shame the nation. Over and over again, we have seen the same story unfold. Local councils and police forces, paralysed by the forces of political correctness and identity politics, have failed spectacularly to protect the children and young people in their care.

This raises urgent questions: How did we get here? What is the true scale of the problem? And what can be done to tackle it?


Rotherham, a large market town in South Yorkshire, is at the heart of the grooming-gangs scandal. In 2012, The Times revealed that a confidential 2010 police report had warned that vast numbers of children were being sexually exploited in South Yorkshire each year by organised networks of men ‘largely of Pakistani heritage’. South Yorkshire Police and local child-protection agencies were shown to have knowledge of widespread, organised child sexual abuse. And yet they had failed to act on that knowledge.

Rotherham borough council, South Yorkshire Police and other agencies responded by setting up a child sexual exploitation (CSE) team to investigate the reports. In 2013, an independent inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay was launched. Her subsequent report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, published in 2014, made for horrific reading. It found that at least 1,400 children had been subjected to sexual abuse between 1997 and 2013. Jay detailed how girls as young as 11 had been raped, trafficked, abducted, beaten and intimidated by men predominantly of Pakistani heritage.

Jay was also deeply critical of the institutional failures that had allowed organised child sexual abuse to flourish in Rotherham. She concluded that there had been ‘blatant’ collective failures on the part, firstly, of the local council, which consistently downplayed the scale of the problem; and secondly, on the part of South Yorkshire Police, which failed to prioritise investigating the abuse allegations. Indeed, the Jay Report found that the police had ‘regarded many child victims with contempt’. The inquiry discovered cases involving ‘children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone’. One young person told the inquiry that gang rape was a normal part of growing up in Rotherham.

The Jay Report also took the local authorities to task for elevating concerns about racial sensitivities over the protection of the children in their care. As the Jay Report put it: ‘Several [council] staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought as racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.’

Rotherham was not an isolated case, of course. By the time of the Jay Report, men had been prosecuted in other potential instances of organised grooming in places like Keighley (2005 and 2013), Blackburn (2007, 2008 and 2009), Rochdale (two cases in 2010) and Oxford (2013).

The cases all bear striking similarities. The mainly Pakistani-heritage perpetrators. The vulnerable young victims, usually in care. And in each case, as later reports were to reveal, the authorities had been afraid to tackle the abuse for fear, effectively, of being called racist.

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