Are Grooming Gangs a British-Pakistani Problem?

Suella Braverman claimed that British-Pakistani men make up most grooming gangs. But experts have highlighted the problem with her claims.

Are Grooming Gangs a British-Pakistani Problem f


"That is dangerous and reductive."

After Suella Braverman singled out British-Pakistani men as perpetrators of child grooming gangs, the NSPCC has said that focusing simply on race or ethnicity is “extremely risky”.

The Home Secretary singled out British-Pakistani men as a particular cause of concern as the government unveiled a series of measures to combat grooming gangs.

This prompted a strong warning from Labour, the NSPCC, and leading academics.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak pledged that “political correctness” about ethnicity will not stand in the way of a crackdown on grooming gangs.

After repeatedly citing high-profile cases in Rotherham and Rochdale, Suella Braverman received criticism for her assertion that “the perpetrators are groups of men, almost all British Pakistani”.

Sabah Kaiser, the ethnic minority ambassador for the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, told BBC Radio 4:

“It is very, very dangerous for the government to turn child sexual abuse into a matter of colour.”

The NSPCC’s chief executive, Sir Peter Wanless, added that offenders “do not just come from one background” and cautioned the government not to “create other blind spots” by bringing up a sensitive subject like race.

Despite the government’s assertions, there is no proof that any one ethnic group is overrepresented in cases of child sexual exploitation, according to a 2020 Home Office assessment, which found that group-based sex offenders are “most commonly white.”

According to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, political correctness should not “get in the way” of pursuing grooming gangs.

But he also cautioned against the peril of focusing primarily on ethnicity.

He said: “The vast majority of sexual abuse cases do not involve those of ethnic minorities and so I am all for clamping down on any kind of case, but if we are going to be serious we have to be honest about what the overlook is.

“Ethnicity is important and nothing should get in the way of investigating and prosecuting child sexual exploitation.

“But if you look at the overall figure that is, you know, a relatively small element of it.”

Dr Ella Cockbain, an associate professor at University College London, said Braverman was playing perfectly into the hands of the “hard right”.

She stated: “She [Suella Braverman] is choosing to mainstream hard-right talking points and to push discredited stereotypes.

“That is dangerous and reductive. It allows other offenders to get away with abuse.”

On April 3, 2023, Rishi Sunak travelled to Rochdale to introduce a new unit that will combine local law enforcement with National Crime Agency investigators with “vast experience” in grooming gang investigations.

To ensure that “cultural sensitivities” are not exploited to keep criminals from being apprehended, the government stated that the strategy must improve how ethnicity data is utilised to help the police investigate grooming gangs.

During his visit to Rochdale, Rishi Sunak was asked if the focus on British-Asian grooming gangs was appropriate.

He responded: “All forms of child sexual exploitation carried out by whoever is horrific and wrong.

“But with the specific issue of grooming gangs, we have had several independent inquiries look at the incidents here in Rochdale, but in Rotherham and Telford.

“What is clear is that when victims and other whistle-blowers come forward their complaints are often ignored by social workers, local politicians, or even the police.

“The reason they were ignored was due to cultural sensitivity and political correctness.  That is not right.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged that “we need to do a better job” but claimed that the government is unaware of how many sex abusers are involved in grooming gangs since “it’s not being reported”.

After stating that “we have to be honest about the fact that some of these gangs have been overwhelmingly British-Pakistani males”, Suella Braverman was criticised for engaging in “dog whistle” politics.

However, regarding the high-profile incidents in Rotherham and Rochdale, she claimed that it was “not racist to tell the truth about what has been going on”.

Braverman acknowledged that it is “important not to demonise a whole community” but remarked:

“I’ve met victims today who have confirmed as much bearing out their own experience, that there have been cultural trends in the practices that we’ve seen, and authorities and professionals have turned a blind eye out of fear of being called racist.”

Moreover, Rishi Sunak’s government denied that Braverman’s remarks served as a “dog whistle” for hate mongers.

According to Sunak’s spokesperson: “What she said was that some of these gangs were largely made up of British Pakistani men. I believe that is factually accurate.”

Ilsa is a digital marketeer and journalist. Her interests include politics, literature, religion and football. Her motto is “Give people their flowers whilst they’re still around to smell them.”

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