A Home Office report has dealt a huge blow to the right-wing narrative of “Asian grooming gangs” by confirming that most child sex offenders are white and there is no reliable evidence to confirm that Asians are over-represented.
The government initially refused to release the report because they said it was not in the public interest, but they relented after a public petition forced their hand.
High-profile cases, including in Rotherham, Rochdale and Telford, have involved groups of men of mainly Pakistani ethnicity, fuelling a perception that it is an “Asian problem.”
As a result “Asian grooming gangs” have become a cause celebre for the far-right, with a number of high-profile figures mounting campaigns across the country.
But the government report, released yesterday, says that:
- CSE offenders are most commonly white. Some studies suggest an over-representation of Black and Asian offenders relative to the demographics of national populations. However, it is not possible to conclude that this is representative of all group-based CSE offending due to issues such as data quality problems, the way the samples were selected in studies, and the potential for bias and inaccuracies in the way that ethnicity data is collected.
- The characteristics of offenders in group-based CSE include that they are predominantly, but not exclusively, male and are often older than sexual offenders in street gangs, but younger than lone child sexual offenders. In many cases, offenders are under the age of thirty, but in some cases they are much older.
- A number of high-profile cases – including the offending in Rotherham and convictions in Telford – have mainly involved men of Pakistani ethnicity. Beyond specific high-profile cases, the academic literature highlights significant limitations to what can be said about links between ethnicity and this form of offending.
- Police forces have found that offender groups come from diverse backgrounds, with each group being broadly ethnically homogenous. However, there are cases where offenders within groups come from different backgrounds.
Commenting on the report Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Some studies have indicated an over-representation of Asian and Black offenders. However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the ethnicity of offenders as existing research is limited and data collection is poor.
“This is disappointing because community and cultural factors are clearly relevant to understanding and tackling offending. Therefore, a commitment to improve the collection and analysis of data on group-based child sexual exploitation, including in relation to characteristics of offenders such as ethnicity and other factors, will be included in the forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.”
Quilliam report ‘debunked’
The Home Office report appears to debunk a 2017 report by the Quilliam Foundation which found “an alarming level of over-representation of South Asian men” in grooming gangs.
The Quilliam report found that 84% of “grooming gang” offenders were South Asian, while they only make up 7% of the total UK population, and that the majority of these offenders are of Pakistani origin with Muslim heritage.
At the time author Muna Adil said: “There are elements from within the British Pakistani community that still subscribe to outdated and sexist views of women embedded within their jaded interpretations of Islam. These backward views are passed down from generation to generation until the lines between faith and culture dissolve, making it increasingly difficult to criticise one without being seen as a critic of the other.”
But following the Home Office report, one of the UK’s leading experts on child sex offending, Dr Ella Cockbain, took to Twitter to denounce Quilliam, as did others.
Quilliam has yet to respond to the Home Office report.