Dear Prime Minister,
On behalf of the 18,000 strong members of the British Pakistani Foundation, we wish to acknowledge the Government’s efforts to highlight the scourge on our society of child sexual exploitation and we wholeheartedly condemn the reprehensible acts of those involved in any child sexual exploitation.
We are writing to you to share our deep concern and disappointment at the Home Secretary’s recent comments and for you not speaking out against them. These comments singled out only the involvement of British Pakistani males in so-called “grooming gangs” and “holding cultural values totally at odds with “British values”.
A report commissioned by the Home Office in 2020, entitled “The characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation in the community”, concluded that the majority of child sexual exploitation offenders are White and further went on to note that, despite some high profile cases, links between ethnicity and this form of offending cannot be proven.
The NSPCC’s Chief Executive warned that the further entrenchment of such a narrative could create ‘new blind spots that prevent victims from being identified’. Further, the National Policing lead on child sexual abuse emphasised that ‘child abusers come from all parts of our society and sadly most abuse happens in the home’.
These conclusions are supported by the conviction only last week of 21 individuals of both genders and from “white” British ethnicity, who over a decade sexually abused young children in Walsall.
Words have consequences – by stigmatising an entire community, and making it the “face” of child sexual exploitation, the Home Secretary’s remarks will detract attention from perpetrators who don’t meet her stereotypes, harming the very victims the Home Secretary ostensibly set out to protect but also further perpetrating violence against minorities.
Recent examples of violence rooted in the ethnicity narrative include the riots outside a hotel housing migrants in Knowsley (February 2023), the firebomb attack on an immigration centre in Dover (November 2022), the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand (March 2019), the attack on a crowd close to Finsbury Park Mosque (January 2018) and the murder of an innocent 81- year-old man in Rotherham (August 2015).
The divisive and dangerous way in which the Home Secretary is seeking to portray all British Pakistani males and insinuating that the community is complicit in their actions is reprehensible. We, therefore, ask you to immediately clarify the Home Secretary’s claims and ask her to withdraw her remarks. We also ask for your prompt engagement with the British Pakistani community, and others, on this issue to ensure that the Home Secretary’s irresponsible words, and a government led by you, are not seen as encouraging and normalising bigotry targeted at British Pakistanis.
The British Pakistan Foundation.
Every one of us has the civic power to write to our local MPs to raise awareness about important community issues which is why BPF has compiled an email template that our members can use to send to their MPs.