Authorities putting 'political correctness' ahead of child protection, says shadow minister

Posted On: 
10th August 2017

Authorities responsible for protecting children are more concerned with avoiding accusations of racism than calling out suspected child abuse, a Shadow Cabinet minister has said.

Sarah Champion
Credit: 
Parliament TV

Sarah Champion said police and council officials were failing to address child sex abuse carried out predominantly by Asian men for fear of retribution.

Her comments came after eighteen people were convicted of sexually abusing young girls in Newcastle, seventeen of whom were British-Asian men.

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The Rotherham Labour MP said such acts were happening “time and time and time again”, and both authorities and the media had failed to address the background of the perpetrators.

“There are many, many types of child abuse and there are many types of child exploitation, but the particular gang-related one is predominantly – the prosecutions and convictions we get are predominantly Pakistani men and therefore we have to address this,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.

“If this was people from a particular town across the country, if it was people from a motorbike gang we were doing this, we would recognise this as an indicator and we would deal with it, but we’re just not dealing with this.

“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.”

Ms Champion, who has been a prominent campaigner on behalf of victims of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, cited examples where council workers would be sent on “race relations courses” unless they withdrew the identity of suspects in reports.

“This is still going on in our towns now, I know it’s still going on, and we’re still not addressing it,” she added.

“I would say that in the cases that I’ve been involved with, that the senior managers tend to be on top of this [in councils and police forces], frontline staff know exactly what’s going on, but it seems to be the middle management who are more concerned with being seen as politically correct and doing the right thing than they are with addressing what is a very unpleasant crime."

The Shadow Women and Equalities minister called for a “grown-up” approach to the issue, refuting the suggestion that calling out the background of the perpetrators was “racist”.

“One of the things, for example on the news last night, there was a picture of 18 of the people convicted, there was no comment that 17 of those were clearly Asian men and it just pains me that this is going on time and time and time again and the Government aren’t researching on what is, are these cultural issues, is there some sort of message going out from within the community…

“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.”