Rotherham MP claims people avoid reporting child abuse over racism fears

Sarah Champion
Sarah Champion
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A Rotherham MP claims people are not reporting child abuse for fear of being labelled racist.

Sarah Champion said there is a need to acknowledge that the 'majority of perpetrators have been British-Pakistani' in the English towns and cities where grooming gangs have been found to have targeted girls.

Largely Asian sex gangs have been uncovered and prosecuted across the country, including offenders in Rotherham, where 1,400 girls are said to have been abused between 1997 and 2013 while authorities turned a blind eye.

But Ms Champion, who has called for more Government research into child sexual exploitation, said people are 'more afraid to be called a racist than they are afraid to be wrong about calling out child abuse'.

"We've got now hundreds of men, Pakistani men, who have been convicted of this crime - why are we not commissioning research to see what's going on and how we need to change what's going on so it never happens again?" she asked.

The MP said every time she speaks about the issue, the level of Islamophobia increases, adding: "The far right will attack me for not doing enough, the floppy left will have a go at me for being a racist.

"But this isn't racist, this is child protection and we need to be grown-up about this and deal with it.

"If it was people from a particular town that was doing this crime across the country, if it was people from - I don't know - a motorbike gang doing this, we'd recognise that as an indicator and we'd deal with it - but we're just not dealing with it.

"I genuinely think it's because people are more afraid to be called a racist than they are afraid to be wrong about calling out child abuse.

"I know in Rotherham I've met frontline social workers who, when - we're talking 10 years ago - they were trying to report this crime, were sent on race relations courses, they were told they were going to have disciplinary action if they didn't remove the fact they were identifying the person as a Pakistani male.

"This is still going on in our towns now, I know it's still going on but we're still not addressing it."