“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.
Nine Asian men who “groomed” white girls, some as young as 13, have been found guilty of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring.
Two others accused of being part of this ring – Qamar Shazad and Liaquat Shah both of Rochdale – were acquitted and walked free from court.
All came from Rochdale and Oldham, with eight of the men being from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan.
The case which was heard at Liverpool Crown Court had sparked protests from far-right groups.
The men – aged between 24 and 59 – had plied their victims with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.
The court was told that the abuse, which began in 2008, had taken place at two takeaways in Heywood, Rochdale.
Some of the girls were beaten and forced to have sex with “several men in a day, several times a week”
One teenager told the jury she was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night.
Another recalled being raped by two men while she was “so drunk she was vomiting over the side of the bed”.
Police said the victims were from “chaotic”, “council estate” backgrounds. The girls were targeted in “honeypot locations” where young people were seen to congregate, such as outside takeaways.
All those convicted were found guilty of conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with girls under the age of 16.
A 59-year-old Oldham man – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – was convicted of two rapes, aiding and abetting rape, sexual assault and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
The men accused and pictured above are:
Kabeer Hassan, 25, of Lacrosse Avenue, Oldham, who was convicted of one count of rape.
Abdul Aziz, 41, of Armstrong Hurst Close, Rochdale, convicted of trafficking for sexual exploitation but cleared of one charge of rape.
Abdul Rauf, 43, of Darley Road and Adil Khan, 42, of Oswald Street, both of Rochdale, convicted of trafficking a child within the UK for sexual exploitation.
Mohammed Sajid, 35, of Jephys Street, Rochdale, convicted of one count of rape, sexual activity with a girl under 16 and trafficking for sexual exploitation but not guilty of a second charge of rape.
Mohammed Amin, 45, of Falinge Road, Falinge, convicted of sexual assault.
Hamid Safi, 22, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale, convicted of trafficking girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
Abdul Qayyum, 44, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, convicted of the conspiracy charge.
Qamar Shahzad, 30, of Tweedale Street, Rochdale was found not guilty of conspiracy and acquitted.
Liaqat Shah, 42, of Kensington Street, Rochdale, was cleared of two charges of rape and the jury were unable to reach a verdict on the conspiracy allegation.