“This is a horrendous crime against children. In this particular case it’s a case of Asian men and white girls,” Colin Lambert, leader of Rochdale Council, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee today.
“Right across the country, and on a wider European scale, it’s not always men. It can be men and women. It’s not always white or non-white. It’s an issue of child sex abuse.”
Last month, nine Rochdale men was found guilty of a number of offences including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child, after exploiting vulnerable girls as young as 13.
Tory chairman Baroness Warsi then said that a “small minority” of Pakistani men see white girls as “fair game” whilst Jack Straw, Labour MP for Blackburn, claimed after an abuse trial in Derby last year that some men of Pakistani origin saw white girls as “easy meat”.
However, Lambert said: “If their clear statement is that the crime was committed because of the Asian community, then I strongly disagree with them, because it’s too easy to badge a crime. It happens right across all our communities. In terms of badging it as an Asian crime, that’s wrong.
“There are issues in all communities.”
Greater Manchester Police’s Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, told the MPs that, looking at sexual offences as a whole, “Asian men do not feature disproportionately”.
But he added: “If you look at this kind of offence [grooming], on the streets, then clearly Asian men do feature disproportionately.”
There are 41 children’s homes in Rochdale, which house vulnerable children from all over England. Of the 60 children living within them, only one is from the borough.
The council’s chief executive, Jim Taylor, said social services were “now better equipped” to deal with future cases and that more than 9,000 young people in Rochdale had received awareness training to deal with threats to their safety.