West Midlands Police withheld a report warning that more than 100 predominantly white children – some only 13 years old – were at serious risk of child exploitation for fear it could inflame racial tension ahead of a General Election. It was finally revealed today, under the Freedom of Information Act, that Britain’s second largest police force withheld the March 2010 document – ‘Problem Profile, Operation Protection’ – which set out how grooming gangs of 75 mainly Muslim men from Birmingham targeted schools and children’s homes across the West Midlands.
The Daily Mail reports the document also described the use of white girls to recruit other vulnerable targets on the gangs’ behalf, but fears of prompting confrontation ahead of the May 2010 General Election and an English Defence League rally in April leading to a “backlash against law abiding citizens from Asian/Pakistani communities” led to the report being suppressed.
It appears that the motivation for the secrecy is similar to that lying behind the Rotherham cover up scandal. There police and social workers stand accused of being too concerned about being labelled racist to prosecute properly the sex crimes involving 1,400 children.
Despite receiving the warnings which identified a potential 139 victims of which more than half were aged 13 to 15, senior officers in the West Midlands did not warn the public or appeal for information about the men responsible, most with a history of sexual violence. The victims were from Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall, half lived with their parents and 41 per cent were in care.
The Daily Mail quotes several passages, albeit heavily redacted for publication. One reads:
“In (redacted) a teacher at a (redacted) that a group of Asian males were approaching pupils at the school gate and grooming them. Strong anecdotal evidence shows this MO (modus operandi) is being used across the force.
“Operations in other forces have identified an MO where offenders use a young girl in a children’s home to target and groom other residents on their behalf.
“This has also been evidenced within the force in (redacted) and (redacted).
“The girl’s motivation to recruit new victims is often that the provision of new girls provides her a way to escape the cycle of abuse.”
Another passage states:
“The vast majority of identified suspects (79 per cent) are Asian (59 of 75), 12 per cent are white and five per cent are African Caribbean. 62 per cent of Asian suspects are of Pakistani origin.
“Pakistani males account for half of all identified suspects in the force (37 of 75).
“Offenders are likely to have a history of previous sexual offences, as well as a wide range of other offences and convictions.
“A high level of organised criminality has now been evidenced both across the force area and regionally, with multiple offenders working together to identify, groom and abuse victims.
“In a number of organised groups victims are forced into prostitution and high levels of intimidation and force are used to keep the victims compliant.”
The report set out the problems of inflaming community tension in the following passage which explained why it was covered up:
“The predominant offender profile of Pakistani Muslim males… combined with the predominant victim profile of white females has the potential to cause significant community tensions.
“There is a potential for a backlash against the vast majority of law abiding citizens from Asian/Pakistani communities from other members of the community believing their children have been exploited.
“These factors, combined with an EDL protest in Dudley in April and a General Election in May could notably increase community tension.
“Police will be criticised if it appears we have not safeguarded vulnerable children, investigated offences and prosecuted offenders.”
The Daily Mail reports the opinion of Barnado’s chief executive Javed Khan: “Because so many vulnerable children were ignored by the authorities, groomers got away with exploiting them for years. Ensuring the cases against groomers go to trial is vital in giving sexually exploited children confidence that the justice system does work for them; that if they come forward, they will be believed and supported.”
West Midlands Police now claim to have changed their approach following “significant cultural change within the force” and that “as a result of our efforts and without doubt the coverage within local and national media, we are seeing more victims coming forward to report abuse, knowing we will take their allegations seriously and treat them sensitively and respectfully.”