West Midlands Police have admitted knowing since 2012 that 75 percent of child sex groomers in the Birmingham region of the United Kingdom are ethnically Asian, and more than four out of five of their victims are young white girls. They compiled an in-depth study into Child Sexual Exploitation two years ago, the conclusions of which had not been seen until now.
A confidential document uncovered by the Birmingham Mail also reveals that perpetrators were left to carry on abusing children whilst their victims were moved to safe houses in other regions.
The details appear to have been found in a copy of the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board’s (BSCB) Sexual Exploitation Prevention and Intervention Strategy, which was published in September 2013 but never released to the media. The strategy seems to have drawn on a number of reports by agencies including the West Midlands Police and the Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB), and was subsequently circulated amongst the agencies in a bid to get to grips with the problem.
The Sandwell Safeguarding report, which in turn used 2012 figures from a West Midlands Police report – a sanitised version of which was handed to the SSCB – stated “Intelligence suggests that of potential suspects identified, 75 per cent of those known are of Asian ethnicity.
“This has mirrored other forces’ experiences of known offenders and, as we have seen from the Derbyshire, Lancashire and Rochdale cases, has the potential to impact on trust and confidence within local communities across the West Midlands.”
The SSCB report goes on to detail how 82 percent of victims were white girls between the ages of 14 and 16. 80 percent of the victims had been reported missing more than once, and 38 percent had been in, or were in care.
The Birmingham Mail has previously reported that Birmingham and other local authorities were failing to offer runaways “return interviews”, which are useful in picking up on whether a child has been abused whilst missing. According to the Mail, between 2008 and 2012 there were 6,000 instances of children running away from care homes, both state owned and privately run. One chuld ran away 96 times. Yet the report admits “We know that there is a clear link between children who go missing and the risk of child sexual exploitation.”
The strategy report uses damning language to illustrate the failings of all the partner agencies in dealing with the problem. It reads “The partnership arrangements in Birmingham are currently failing to protect our children from child sexual exploitation.
“Perhaps the clearest indicator of this is reflected in that at the time of writing this strategy, there are three young people, the victims of child sexual exploitation, who are subject to a Secure Accommodation Order whilst the perpetrators of these horrific crimes remain at liberty and continue to target other children. The absence of the prosecutions of these offenders is startling.
“Partner inaction may indicate that there is sometimes a reluctance to use the statutory powers available to them, and this is unacceptable.”
At the time of writing the strategy report, the BSCB said there were 111 young people currently known to be at risk of grooming and sexual exploitation. This involved behaviour such as inviting young girls to parties in hotels, offering them gifts and plying them with drink or drugs before sexually abusing them.
Just under half of the girls were aged between 11 and 15, with one in three being 15 years of age. A quarter of the girls were 16 years old. The oldest was 19, and the youngest were two girls aged just 11. However, the report admits that the total number of girls being abused in this way was not definitively known.
“Whilst there is some understanding of hot spots, victim profile and trends within Birmingham, the partners do not yet have an adequate understanding of the size of the problem of which the local community is facing with regards to CSE, nor is enough known around the totality around the number of victims and perpetrators,” the report said.
“The need to target, prosecute and disrupt those sexual predators who are responsible for the grooming and exploitation of children and young people is paramount.
“Given the under-reported nature of child sexual exploitation, it is crucial that young people, families and carers, professionals and the community share intelligence on perpetrators, no matter how insignificant the information may seem, with the authorities.
“How authorities deal with, analyse and make connections with that perpetrator intelligence is vital, as is the timely feedback to those partners to use that analysis to co-ordinate prevention work, victim safety planning and disruption and prosecution of perpetrators.
“Given the research from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner within CSE and the link with gangs in Birmingham, the interface between CSE screening and referrals into MAGU (Multi-Agency Gang Unit) is crucial.”
What is becoming increasingly clear is the apathy with which all agencies tackled the problem, preferring workshops and strategies to arrests and prosecutions. For example last year the Children’s Society released a statement on child grooming which read “Recent high-profile cases of child sexual exploitation – such as in Oxford and Rochdale – have involved children being groomed or exploited in hotels, restaurants and other commercial premises.
“A number of young people supported by The Children’s Society project in the area mentioned being taken to ‘hotel parties’, where they were given drugs and alcohol and then sexually abused.
“In response, The Children’s Society, West Midlands Police, Coventry Community Safety Team and other local charities contacted hotels in the city and ran awareness-raising sessions for staff.”
Last month, West Midlands Police said that it was dealing with 57 current sexual exploitation cases, 130 suspected cases and 67 investigations of online offenses against children.