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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

UK orders research into ethnicity of sex grooming gangs

It follows a series of convictions of men from a predominantly Pakistani background

Britain's home secretary Sajid Javid. Reuters
Britain's home secretary Sajid Javid. Reuters

Britain’s home secretary has ordered research to be carried out into the ethnic origin of sexual grooming gangs, after a series of high profile trials jailed dozens of British-Pakistani men.

Sajid Javid announced the move in a letter to Labour Party politician Sarah Champion, the parliamentary representative for Rotherham, the town at the centre of the biggest child protection scandal in British history.

An independent inquiry in 2014 into the Rotherham sex gang scandal found that 1,400 children had been abused by mostly British-Pakistani men between 1997 and 2013.

It was revealed on Wednesday that Ms Champion, who wrote last year that the UK had a "problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls", had been given increased protection by police after receiving death threats.

Mr Javid, who is of Pakistani descent, said: “MPs should be able to do their job without being threatened or intimidated in any way. Sarah Champion has my full support.”

“My officials have been working with investigating officers in relevant cases, and with the National Crime Agency, to establish the particular characteristics and contexts associated with this type of offending,” the home secretary said on Thursday.

"We are looking at what this data set can tell us about the characteristics of offenders, victims and the wider context of abuse; all of which have critical bearing on the effective targeting of prevention activity."

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He added that the project would help authorities identify “the similarities and differences between child sexual exploitation by organised networks” in order to support a “more targeted response” by police.

In August 2017, following the convictions of 17 men of Asian and Middle Eastern origin for their roles in a sex abuse ring in which more than 100 adolescent girls and young women were abused, Ms Champion wrote an editorial in right-wing tabloid The Sun titled: “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls - it’s time we faced up to it.”

She later apologised for her “extremely poor choice of words” and resigned from her role as shadow minister for Women and Equalities.

Scotland Yard confirmed on Wednesday evening that it had investigated death threats against Ms Champion, who had been accused of “industrial-scale racism” for her comments by racial justice campaigners.