Delayed Home Office report dispels myths about sexual grooming

25th Dec 2020
Delayed Home Office report dispels myths about sexual grooming

Photo: headlines exclusively focused on the  ethnicity and religion of child abuse offenders when they are of Asian and Muslim origin.

Hamed Chapman

The majority of child sexual abuse gangs are made up of white men under the age of 30, according to a delayed Home Office report about the ethnicity of offenders that dispels racist smears linking most grooming to Asian men.

The long-awaited official paper was promised by former Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, in 2018 after a series of high-profile cases of group-based child sexual exploitation (CSE) focused on the involvement of mainly Pakistani-heritage offenders but found no evidence to prove a link to ethnicity.

“Research has found that group-based CSE offenders are most commonly White. Some studies suggest an over-representation of Black and Asian offenders relative to the demographics of national populations. However, it is not possible to conclude that this is representative of all group-based CSE offending,” it reported.

There was also “no common structure to offender networks and modus operandi vary.” Motivations differed “but a sexual interest in children is not always the predominant motive. Financial gain and a desire for sexual gratification are common motives and misogyny and disregard for women and girls may further enable the abuse.”

The Home Office previously refused to release the report, arguing that it would not be in the “public interest” in response to a Freedom of Information request by The Independent, but finally was committed to making it public after a petition was signed by more than 130,000 people.

In a forward to the report, Javid’s replacement as Home Secretary, Priti Patel, pointed out that she had brought in what she called an External Reference Group earlier this year to review the content and findings before it was published to ensure, as spelt out in the paper, was “informed by experts with a variety of perspectives and experience.”

“I am determined to ensure the government, law enforcement and other partners better understand any community and cultural factors relevant to tackling offending – helping us to safeguard children from abuse, deliver justice for victims and survivors, and restore the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to confront these repulsive crimes,” she said.

With regard to claims that there are high numbers of offenders of Asian or Black ethnicities committing group-based CSE offences, the findings found that it was “not possible to say whether these groups are over-represented in this type of offending.”

Research to date was said to have “relied on poor-quality data with a number of weaknesses.” The result was that “it remains difficult to compare the make-up of the offender population with the local demography of certain areas, in order to make fully informed assessments of whether some groups are over-represented.”

“Based on the existing evidence, and our understanding of the flaws in the existing data, it seems most likely that the ethnicity of group-based CSE offenders is in line with CSA more generally and with the general population, with the majority of offenders being White.”

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