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UK To help us improve GOV. UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. Send me the survey Don’t have an email address? All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. Twelve men were initially charged with sex trafficking and other offences including: rape, trafficking girls for sex and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. Nine men were convicted, of whom eight were of British Pakistani origin and one was an Afghan asylum-seeker.
The abuse of underage girls that occurred in 2008 and 2009 centred around two takeaways in Heywood near Rochdale. Attempts by Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team co-ordinator for the NHS, Sara Rowbotham to alert police and authorities to «patterns of sexual abuse» were ignored. Between 2003 and 2014, Sara Rowbothan, made more than 180 attempts to alert police and social services but was told the witnesses were not reliable. As a result of the CPS dropping the case, the police halted their investigation, which was resumed when a second girl made complaints of a similar nature in December 2009.
The victims, vulnerable teenagers from deprived, dysfunctional backgrounds, were targeted in «honeypot locations» where young people congregated, such as takeaway food shops. One victim, a 15-year-old known as the Honey Monster, acted as a recruiter, procuring girls as young as 13 for the gang. The victims were coerced and bribed into keeping quiet about the abuse by a combination of alcohol and drugs, food, small sums of money and other gifts. The oldest person to be convicted, Shabir Ahmed, was for a while the main trafficker of the victims.
On one occasion he ordered a girl aged 15 to have sex with Kabeer Hassan, as a «treat» for his birthday — Hassan then raped the girl himself. Victims were physically assaulted and raped by as many as five men at a time, or obliged to have sex with «several men in a day, several times a week». Some gang members told the court the girls were willing participants and happy having sex with the men. The ring-leader, 59-year-old Shabir Ahmed, claimed the girls were «prostitutes» who had been running a «business empire» and it was all «white lies». He shouted in court, «Where are the white people? You have only got my kind here.
The trial concluded in May 2012 with the nine convictions. Shabir Ahmed received the longest sentence, 19 years for rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault, trafficking for sexual exploitation and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children. Following the break up of the first sex ring in May 2012, the police made arrests in relation to another child sexual exploitation ring in Rochdale. Nine men between 24 and 38 years old were arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a child. In March 2015, ten men aged between 26 and 45 were charged with serious sex offences against seven females aged between 13 and 23 at the time. The alleged offences that took place in Rochdale between 2005 and 2013 included rape, conspiracy to rape, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual activity with a child, and sexual assault.
The case raised a serious debate about whether the crimes were racially motivated. Suggestions emerged that police and social work departments failed to act when details of the gang emerged for fear of appearing racist, and vulnerable white teenagers being groomed by Pakistani men were ignored. Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, recalled in a BBC documentary filmed in 2012 that she had worked with the families of the victims involved, and had been «round at the police station virtually every week» and was «begging» both the police and social services to do something. Cryer said, «Neither the police nor social services would touch those cases. I think it was they were afraid of being called racist. Tim Loughton, the Minister for Children and Families, said that while there was no evidence that ethnic communities condoned child sexual abuse, he was concerned that some had been slow to report it to the police, and urged police and social workers not to allow «political correctness around ethnicity» to hinder their work to apprehend such criminals. In late 2011, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner started a two-year long inquiry into child sexual exploitation by street gangs.
The inquiry issued its final report in November 2013. A report compiled by The Times on 5 January 2011, related to convictions for child sex grooming in the North and Midlands. Of the 56 offenders convicted since 1997 for crimes relating to on-street grooming of girls aged 11 to 16, three were white, 53 were Asian of which 50 were Muslim, and most were from the British Pakistani community. The findings have been questioned by researchers Ella Cockbain and Helen Brayley, from whose work for the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science The Times report had drawn much of its evidence. The vast majority perpetrators are Pakistani Asians», with sources inside Crop claiming a percentage as high as 80 per cent although, The Independent noted, «Kurdish, Romanian and Albanian gangs were also involved». In 2011, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre launched a five-month long investigation into whether there was a link between racial profile and the crime of underage grooming.
The organisation defined underage grooming as any situation where a child or young person received a gift in exchange for sexual favours. Wendy Shepherd, child sexual exploitation project manager for Barnardo’s in the north of England, said that since she started working with the organisation, there has been «a shift from the men selling children in ones or twos to something that is much more organised in groups and networks. Asians are overwhelmingly represented in the prosecutions for such offences. In a BBC documentary investigating grooming young girls for sex by some Pakistani men, Imam Irfan Chishti from the Rochdale Council of Mosques deplored the practice, saying it was «very shocking to see fellow British Muslims brought to court for this kind of horrific offence.