A HOME Office report has been unable to determine if there is a link between ethnicity and child sexual exploitation offenders due to poor data — but has concluded that most offenders are white.
Home secretary Priti Patel (pictured) called the findings “disappointing”, saying community and cultural factors were clearly relevant to understanding and tackling offending.
She has now promised to improve collection and data analysis on group-based CSE, including in relation to characteristics of offenders such as ethnicity, in the government’s forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.
The research, published this week after a Government U-turn, on characteristics of group-based CSE came after high profile cases of sexual grooming in towns including Rotherham.
Ms Patel said: “The paper sets out the limited available evidence on the characteristics of offenders including how they operate, ethnicity, age, offender networks, as well as the context in which these crimes are often committed, along with implications for frontline responses and for policy development.
“Some studies have indicated an over-representation of Asian and Black offenders.
“However, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the ethnicity of offenders as existing research is limited and data collection is poor.
“This is disappointing because community and cultural factors are clearly relevant to understanding and tackling offending. Therefore, a commitment to improve the collection and analysis of data on group-based child sexual exploitation, including in relation to characteristics of offenders such as ethnicity and other factors, will be included in the forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.”
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion and survivor Sammy Woodhouse were part of an external reference group who helped inform the report.
Ms Patel added victims being let down in the past in the name of political correctness was “one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience”.
Key findings included:
• People who perpetrate group-based CSE are predominantly male and under the age of 30.
• A sexual interest in children is not always the predominant motive. Financial gain and a desire for sexual gratification are common motives and misogyny and disregard for women and girls may further enable the abuse.
• Offender networks are often loosely interconnected and based around existing social connections (which means they are often broadly homogenous in age, ethnic background and socio-economic status).
• Networks of offenders vary considerably in size, from two to tens of offenders.
• These sprawling networks — often not highly-organised — can pose significant investigative challenges for the police.
• Research on offender ethnicity is limited, and tends to rely on poor quality data. It is therefore difficult to draw conclusions about differences in ethnicity of offenders, but it is likely that no one community or culture is uniquely predisposed to offending.
• A number of studies have indicated an over-representation of Asian and Black offenders in group-based CSE. Most of the same studies show that the majority of offenders are White.
Ms Champion said the report raised more questions than it answered and the Government needed to address its shortcomings in child protection and victim support.
She has called for a nationally recognised and approved set of triggers that, once met, require local authorities to provide support for children showing signs of harm, “rather than the current postcode lottery when it comes to help”.
Rotherham Council leader Chris Read also responded to the report on Twitter (below).