Grooming gangs are still sexually abusing girls and young women across the country despite repeated warnings and prosecutions, a shocking report revealed yesterday.
Efforts to stop the exploitation have been hampered by the authorities’ failure to understand why abusers target vulnerable white girls, the investigation found.
The author of a report into the latest abuse scandal yesterday urged the Government to order a national study into the ‘cultural influences’ on the offenders, predominantly from an ‘Asian British’ background.
The 18-strong Newcastle grooming gang. Top row left-to-right: Nashir Uddin, Taherul Alam, Hassan Ali, Mohammed Azram , Monjur Choudhury, Saiful Islam Middle row left-to-right : Abdulhamid Minoyee, Jahanger Zaman, Mohibur Rahman, Prabhat Nelli, Nadeem Aslam, Eisa Mousavi Bottom row left-to-right: Habibur Rahim, Badrul Hussain, Carolann Gallon, Abdul Sabe, Redwan Siddquee, Yassar Hussain
The inquiry into gangs who groomed 700 girls and women in the North-East came four years after more than a thousand victims were found to have been abused in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The new report revealed:
The authorities effectively gave grooming gangs the green light to sexually abuse by failing to prosecute, instead locking up victims;One abuser – an illegal immigrant granted indefinite leave to remain – denounced British girls’ ‘lack of morals’ and praised the availability of sex and drugs;The abuse of vulnerable victims is still ‘taking place across the country’ and ‘all children and vulnerable adults are at risk’
The serious case review by barrister David Spicer examined the actions of agencies involved in Operation Sanctuary, which was launched by Northumbria Police.
The report identifies failures by police and social services, who repeatedly let down victims by not dealing with the abusers until a change of approach in 2014 – when Operation Sanctuary began.
It ultimately resulted in 112 offenders being jailed for a total of almost 500 years. Among them was an 18-strong grooming gang in Newcastle, whose members were found guilty of rape, sexual assault, trafficking and inciting prostitution. Police believe the case involved over 100 victims.
Mr Spicer said that since the Rotherham abuse scandal was exposed in 2011, there had been a change of attitude by agencies and an injection of resources. But he concluded that more needs to be done to defeat the criminals.
He noted: ‘Despite comprehensive action to disrupt and prosecute perpetrators and the publicity that this has attracted, sexual exploitation continues. Perpetrators show remarkable persistence in targeting and grooming victims, undeterred by involvement of the police and other agencies.’
An abuser who groomed teenage girls for sex would have been beheaded or stoned if he committed the same crimes in his home country, the report noted.
The asylum seeker showed ‘no regret’ for his behaviour even after he was found guilty and attacked the ‘lack of morals’ of British girls.
Before coming to Britain, the man, who was not named, spent ten years in Turkey, around five in Greece and some time in Italy and France. He had hoped to get to Canada.
The report said: ‘If convicted for rape in his home country, he would be beheaded or buried up to the neck and stoned.
‘He was asked about what he thought about the United Kingdom and influences in his education.
The serious case review was carried out by barrister David Spicer and it identified failures by police and social services
‘He said you can get anything here – any sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no control. He spoke in a derogatory way about lack of morals in British girls and did not go with Muslim girls because there are not many of them.’
He exploited a 15-year-old girl – but told the inquiry team he was convicted only ‘because of a conspiracy by the Government, police and the judge who paid the victims’. The man was the only one of the abusers to agree to help the investigation.
The report said it was ‘unfortunate’ there was not more input from other perpetrators.
The review noted the abusers were mainly ‘not white but came from a diverse range of backgrounds including Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Turkish, Albanian and Eastern European’.
Mr Spicer criticised the aggressive, 'inhuman' cross examination of witnesses during the trials of the accused, including at Newcastle Crown Court (pictured)
The report’s author, child sexual exploitation expert and barrister David Spicer, also criticised the aggressive, ‘inhuman’ cross-examinations carried out by defence lawyers during the trials.
He said: ‘I am aware how easy it is to treat vulnerable witnesses badly. It’s not a difficult process to confuse them and distress them.
‘All the victims we spoke to said they were disgusted with their experience in the court and several of them had to have mental health treatment afterwards as they were suffering from trauma.’
One girl was questioned about material from her local authority records that she had no idea existed, let alone been released to the defence, Mr Spicer said.
He added: ‘Knowingly exposing a vulnerable, damaged person to that experience does seem to be inhuman and degrading treatment because you know they are going to be damaged by the process.’
Victims told Mr Spicer how they were raped while under the influence of drink and drugs.
‘I never had sex when I was sober,’ one said. ‘I wanted to leave. I was given drink. I kept saying no and fighting them off. I was very tired and fell asleep. When I woke, I had been raped.’
The review also said many victims did not realise they were being abused because the perpetrators made them think they were friends.
One girl said: