The Home Secretary once again raised the spectre of Muslim grooming gangs, and announced another crackdown. There are, in my view, problems with misogynistic attitudes in some parts of the Muslim community, but no more than you would find among socially conservative Hindus or Sikhs.
Muslims do make up a disproportionate number of people arrested for street grooming. However they are disproportionately under represented in other forms of grooming, in particular on-line grooming, where the perpetrators are almost exclusively white men.
When you added up statistics for all forms of grooming Muslim men were still over-represented, but less so.
Except in turns out that all of these statistics were wrong.
When Theresa May was PM she commissioned Professor Alexis Jay to carry out a full review of child sexual abuse in the UK. It was a massive, and authoritative study, which made some very big recommendations for Government. The deadline for the Government to respond to those recommendations passed last month. Other than the crackdown on Muslims the Home Secretary has decided to do nothing.
The statistics contained in the Jay report are so shocking, that I am going to quote the whole passage:
Children are sexually abused every day in England and Wales. In the year ending September 2021, police forces recorded a total of 67,675 sexual offences against children. One recent estimate – described as “conservative” – suggested that around 500,000 children are abused in a single year. Another estimate suggested at least 15 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys are sexually abused before the age of 16. The abuse includes sexual exploitation by groups, involving the most degrading and destructive acts, including being repeatedly raped or sexually assaulted, sometimes over months or years. There has been a rapid escalation in the number of children being groomed on social media platforms as online-facilitated abuse and sexual exploitation increasingly overlap. As the government’s April 2019 Online Harms White Paper observed, the “sheer scale of CSEA [child sexual exploitation and abuse] online is horrifying”. The internet has been used to live stream the sexual abuse of children from around the world for as little as 93 pence.
Each act of sexual abuse is a crime. In 2021, the National Crime Agency estimated that there were between 550,000 and 850,000 individuals in the UK who posed varying degrees of sexual risk to children. Chief Constable Simon Bailey, at that time the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations and now retired, told the Inquiry that the police were seeing “an exponential increase in reports of abuse”, but also “levels of depravity that are – if they could get worse, are getting worse. We are seeing babies being subjects of sexual abuse”.
It turns out that the UK has been massively underestimating the scale of on-line child sexual abuse for years, decades. All the time we were panicking about Muslim grooming gangs we turned a blind eye to middle class white men using the internet to carry out abuse on an industrial scale.
This doesn’t make what happened in places like Rotherham any less horrific. But it does mean that we have been ignoring an epidemic of abuse.
The statistics on prosecutions are just as shocking.
Last year the NSPCC did a full review of convictions for child sexual abuse. Again, I will quote their findings in full:
- Prosecutions for CSA in England and Wales have more than halved from 6,394 in 2016/17 to 3,025 in 2020/21, while convictions dropped by 45% from 4,751 to 2,595 over the same period.
- Time taken for CSA cases to reach court and be completed has increased by 5 months in the last 3 years – the average time being 1 year and 10 months last year.
In the view of the NSPCC this was directly due to Government cuts in funding to the criminal justice system. It is hard to disagree. It’s also hard to see the focus on Muslim grooming gangs as anything other than Islamaphobia. What’s worse is the Government clearly thinks that a part of their voter base share those views.
I have written about this before, but it is worth repeating. The Government has decriminalised child abuse.
And it’s response to the Jay report shows that they care about headlines in the Mail and the Express more than they care about protecting children.