The issue of 'grooming' of under age girls by predominantly Asian gangs, covered on this blog here, here and here, seems to have gone mainstream, following the publication of a UCL report which, while widely publicised, seems impossible to actually find on the Web.
Now it's even the top story on Woman Sour. Far away are the days, seven years ago, when a Channel Four documentary on the subject was pulled, after pressure from West Yorkshire Police, because it might increase support for the BNP (aka 'increase community tensions'). What was once ignored by polite society, and only spoken of by racist knuckledraggers, is now almost prime-time, earnestly discussed by the great and the good. And now, when arrests are made, even the BBC no longer looks the other way.
But there was a price to pay for all those liberal blind eyes over so many years. It was paid by working-class Yorkshire and Lancashire girls like Emma, interviewed here. The Labour MP Ann Cryer, who's been a long-time campaigner on this issue, getting stick "from leading figures within her own party, not least from the former Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott", said 'Emma's description of her situation is pretty well identical to the situation of girls in Keighley whose mothers came to see me out of desperation, because they just couldn't get any action from West Yorkshire Police or Bradford Social Services'. The same West Yorkshire Police that was suppressing the evidence for political reasons, under its Chief Constable the late Colin Cramphorn, 'a man of liberal sympathies and a Guardian reader for many years'.
Just as 52 people had to die in London before the Labour Party started putting the lives of UK citizens ahead of not being like Norman Tebbit, girls have been raped and abused over a decade* while police, media and social services looked the other way.
Recent news reports have highlighted the prosecution of a gangs (sic) of predominantly Pakistani men for the grooming and sexual exploitation of young girls. What's the best way to tackle this appauling (sic) crime without stereotyping and dividing communitites (sic)? We hear again from a young woman groomed by Pakistani teenagers from the age of 12 and then repeatedly raped. Ann Cryer, the former MP for Keighley, who's been speaking out on this issue for many years, and Yusuf Tai from Forward Thinking a group working with varied Muslim communities discuss possible ways to prevent crimes like this happening again.
* maybe a lot longer, if former Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell is right :
When I came to Blackburn in the 1970s, one of my main issues was the gangs of Asian men outside the old nightclub on top of the shopping centre who were picking up drunk white girls, specifically to abuse them. These were cars full of Asian lads in BMWs and Mercedes, offering lifts home to these young women, leading to incidents of rape and sexual assaults. From the first time I was posted to East Lancashire it has been a problem.
What Jack Straw has said so carefully is true: There is a problem with some members of the Pakistani community targeting young women in this way. In recent years we have seen it specifically with victims aged just 14, 15 or 16-years-old who are out on the streets at night and groomed by predatory gangs. For people to just come out and call Mr Straw racist is wrong.
During the past decade there has been Operation Engage in Blackburn and Operation Awaken in Blackpool as the police has been able to feel more open about the situation. In the past there have been major fears of being seen as racist, especially after the Stephen Lawrence inquiry at the Met police said the force was institutionally racist.