Although we have always disagreed very strongly with Britain First’s idea about how to deal with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham we, like so many others have always accepted the reports that the majority of the offenders were men from ethnic minority groups, and that a significant proportion of them were of Pakistani origin. So many news reports, so many politicians and so many senior policemen made the same claim that it seemed very credible.
This June an extremely interesting reportwas published. Entitled ‘The Way Forward for Rotherham it was produced by the Rotherham local safeguarding children’s board and it makes harrowing but fascinating reading. This report casts doubt upon the popular narrative, going so far as to suggest that 68% of offenders in Rotherham were actually white British. That’s a very far cry from the media narrative about ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ and a powerful slap in the face for the racially motivated ‘campaign’ from Britain First to oppose all UK Muslims because of Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandals. According to the report…
“The number of offenders, including suspects, were mainly White”
Yes, we know – we were fooled too. But let us say that again – just so you get it…
“The number of offenders, including suspects, were mainly White”
But don’t just take our word for it. Read the report for yourself if you like. It’s here.
“..the Crown Prosecution Service’s lead on child sexual abuse and violence against women and girls, tries to offer a calm perspective. Unruffled by mounting media hysteria over the ethnicity of abusers in Rotherham, he suggests stepping back and taking a wider view of the nationwide picture of child sex abuse.
His role means he has oversight of all child sex abuse cases in England and Wales. “So I know that the vast majority of offenders are British white male,” he says, setting the number at somewhere between 80 and 90%. “We have come across cases all over the country and the ethnicity of the perpetrators varies depending on where you are … It is not the abusers’ race that defines them. It is their attitude to women that defines them.” “
Of course, we don’t imagine there are hordes of white British child sexual exploiters roaming Rotherham’s streets any more than there are hordes of Asian Muslims doing the same. We do think that it’s important that any such headline is responsible – hence our somewhat ironic reference to ‘white grooming gangs’ which we hope might expose the equally prejudicial use of the term ‘Muslim grooming gangs’.
The report states that 24% of the perpetrators were Asian, let alone Muslim. We compared this to the demographic breakdown of Rotherham’s population and it does, genuinely seem disproportionate. The 2011 census (a representative date for the offences under consideration) shows a Muslim population of 3.7%.
Rotherham’s combined Asian population numbers around 5.6%.
The total BME population is 8.1%.
That means that Asians were over-represented by a multiple of 4 (give or take) in the figures released last June. However – they do not represent a majority of perpetrators and they most certainly do not represent the entire Asian population (or even the entire Muslim population).
So what does all this mean?
First of all it means that any organisation that is genuinely concerned about protecting children really ought to focus its resources on more than a minority of offenders. By focusing exclusively upon Asian Muslims (assuming that the recently published figures are accurate) Britain First ignores over three quarters (76%) of Rotherham’s child sexual exploitation. Additionally, they ignore the non-Muslim Asians who presumably make up a very significant proportion of the remaining 24%.
But – for simplicity’s sake let’s forget the obvious problem that Asian doesn’t necessarily mean Muslim and assume that all of the Asian 24% were Muslims. Rounding the figures up that means that a grand total of 17 of the 71 repeat offenders in these ‘grooming gangs’ would have been Asian Muslims. Of course the true figure would be less than that but we want to keep the sums simple.
At the time of the last census Rotherham had a total population of 257,280. Muslims made up 3.7% of that figure. That equals a total of 9,520 Muslims living in Rotherham. Even if we assume that all 24% Asian perpetrators in Rotherham were indeed Muslim (statistically very unlikely) that means that approximately 0.2% of Rotherham’s Muslim population is known to be involved in child sexual exploitation. That’s approximately 1 in 500.
Let’s put that another way… 99.8% of Rotherham’s Muslims are not involved!
Of course – that still leaves the problem of the 0.2% of Rotherham’s Muslims who have been involved in some way with child sexual exploitation. That involvement, according to the report, ranges from online grooming and ‘inappropriate relationships’ to procurement and actual rape. These are all significant crimes and all the offenders deserve to be prosecuted but it’s not at all the image Britain First likes to portray.
The impact of far right and neo-nazi intervention
Of course there can be no justification for the fact that the officials in Rotherham ignored the problems of child sexual exploitation that were reported to them. But it does appear that their fears about further exploitation by neo-nazi groups were well-founded.
Those fears seem to have been understandable given the way that far right groups like Britain First, the English Defence League, the National Front, UKIP and the BNP have exploited the situation for their own, divisive ends. It seems that the authorities in Rotherham were very aware of the way that Britain’s neo-nazis had capitalized upon similair revelations in Derby and elsewhere and were desperately trying to prevent its repetition.
There does appear to have been a very real problem in Rotherham and quite possibly elsewhere. But it’s not the fault of the 99.8% of British Muslims who played no part in child sexual exploitation. It’s the fault of the offenders themselves and the leeway afforded them by an overly defensive local authority and an overly sensitive police establishment who, in part because of fears about the far-right’s reaction, avoided the issue.
What’s the truth?
To be fair, we genuinely don’t know how accurate or representative even these figures are. It seems that as more information comes to light the picture of what happened in Rotherham keeps on changing. Perhaps we’ll never know for sure.
What we are certain about is this…
The problem of inadequate official responses to child sexual exploitation and related crimes will not be solved by targeting a minority of offenders, ascribing their criminal tendencies to all members of their ethnic group and then persecuting the innocent. That has merely diverted police time and money away from the real perpetrators and distracted public attention from the real problem. There is no point in attacking 99.8% of a minority group because of the actions of 0.2% of their number. Unless of course your motivation has nothing to do with protecting children at all.
Child Sexual Exploitation is a problem for us all. It impacts upon all our communities and we all need to be aware of it, of how to protect our own children and of how to best help others. None of us benefit from divisiveness, least of all the children. Perhaps it’s time for the far right to put away their flags and megaphones and join in the work that needs to be done to protect children from abuse?
We’re sure that many of Britain First’s supporters are as upset and concerned as the rest of us. Child sexual exploitation really IS outrageous but if experiences in Rotherham and Derby have shown us anything it’s that over the top condemnations of entire groups do nothing to solve the problems we all face. On the contrary they just make it more difficult for those in authority to address their localized problems openly. If only those BF supporters who actually care about these children could come to the table (and the library!) and try to help instead of hurling abuse and flags all over the place it might make a difference!
But that wouldn’t help Britain First’s wider cause. It wouldn’t help them to demonise and alienate UK Muslims. It wouldn’t help them sell their trashy merchandise and con donations out of their supporters. And that’s why the likes of Folding Golding and Dutchy Fransen will never stop fuelling division and prejudice. For them it’s not about child protection – it’s about profit.
We don’t believe that Britain First cares a damn about Rotherham’s children.
We believe that they care only about exploiting their trauma still further in a shameful attempt to further their own neo-nazi cause.
We also believe that the vast majority of the good people of Rotherham and of the wider UK can see right through their shallow, divisive and racist agenda.
Oh look. They’re at it again. This time in Blackburn. Have these people no shame?