Boris Johnson’s government has refused to release a report on the ethnic background of grooming gangs, saying it is not in “the public interest” and would deprive ministers of a “safe space” to shape policy.
The groomings gangs investigation was announced by Sajid Javid, the former Home Secretary, in 2018, with a pledge that he would “not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it”.
The promised transparency soon evaporated, however, with Home Office bureaucrats deciding that the report would in fact remain “internal” — and top-level politicians and parliamentarians representing constituencies plagued by grooming gangs questioning whether a real investigation was even carried out.
Now attempts by the left-wing Independent news website to have the report disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act have foundered, with the Home Office, now led by Priti Patel, insisting it is not in “the public interest”.
More ‘Asian’ Grooming Gang Members Sentenced for Raping Children in Huddersfield, England https://t.co/FDuwLtVn5H
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 21, 2020
“One of the main purposes of [exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act] is to protect the ‘safe space’ necessary for ministers and officials to consider policy options in private without risk of premature disclosure,” read the response to the Independent from Johnson’s notionally right-wing government.
“Disclosure would risk pre-empting decisions still to be made by ministers. In addition, the information could be misleading if made public and used out of context,” the missive claimed.
Officials also claimed, somewhat dubiously, that “operationally sensitive” information in the requested information could threaten ongoing police investigations — although why general information on the ethnic background of grooming gang members would jeopardise any particular operation was left unclear.
Asylum Seeker Child Rape Grooming Gang Kept Secret by Scottish Police https://t.co/7RPUwf6oja
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 28, 2020
Independent research by outfits such as the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam have tended to confirm the popular perception that groomers are overwhelmingly Muslim men with roots in Islamic countries, particularly Pakistan and the South Asia region — and their victims overwhelmingly white.
Police, prosecutors, and local government were for decades extremely reluctant to confront the issue, suggesting to some victims parents, in defiance of the law, that the groomers’ underage victims had consented, or that taking action would damage community relations or give succour to anti-immigration forces.
However, even after the scandal finally broke, with official probes denouncing the inaction — although not actually punishing anyone for it — and groomers’ tried and imprisoned (normally for short terms sold to the public as extravagantly punitive through creative reporting) for their historic offences, the authorities are still not always forthright about the issue.
In Scotland, for example, the police reportedly kept a grooming gang comprised of Middle Eastern and North African asylum seekers secret.
The mainstream media, for its part, has gone back to largely ignoring child grooming, with the BBC in particular having a tendency to report on convictions, but only in obscure sub-region sections of its website, and typically no reference to the groomers’ ethnic or religious backgrounds.
WATCH: Quilliam’s Maajid Nawaz Blasts ‘Complicit’ Politicians and Police in Pakistani Grooming Gang Coverup https://t.co/yQkIiw1mGq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 16, 2018