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Inquiry is told 30 people arrested over sex grooming
Thirty people have been arrested in the space of two months in the Bradford area by police investigating child sex grooming, an inquiry by MPs was told.
Kris Hopkins, MP for Ilkley, said the crackdown – revealed to him, by the police – showed the days when alleged “political correct-ness” made authorities reluctant to act were gone.
Arguing it was impossible to say whether child grooming was increasing, or on the decline, he told the inquiry: “It's highlighted now – people have the confidence to come forward and the police are pursuing people.
“Across the Bradford district 30 people have been arrested in the last two months and there are ongoing cases. I’ve no doubt at all the police know what's expected by the law and by politicians as well.
Praising Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, commander of the Airedale and North Bradford division, Mr Hopkins said: “There’s no political correctness. Leaders in the district want those perpet-rators of this vile activity brought to justice.”
The MP was speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which has started an inquiry into child grooming.
In November, Mr Hopkins triggered a row when he claimed gangs of Muslim men were “going round and raping white kids”, fuelled by a cultural background that encouraged brutal sexism against women.
Yesterday, the MP urged the Pakistani community to “come to terms” with the problem, telling the committee Pakistani women were the key.
He said: “I want to get women empowered in that community, to really become the voice in that community, and really challenge the behaviour of men.”
The inquiry also heard from former Keighley MP Ann Cryer, who spoke out against sex abuse by a minority of Pakistani men in Keighley a decade ago – a campaign which resulted in her being branded a racist.
Yesterday, Mrs Cryer noted the lack of action, back in 2002, by police and social services, saying: “It seemed they were terrified about being called racist.”
The former MP said she had “mixed emotions” about discussing the issue so many years later, telling MPs: “I am pleased people recognise that what I was saying was right.
“But I’m very upset that – after 12 years, or 11 years – we are still getting these cases. They are coming fast and furious at the moment.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman confirmed the figure given by Mr Hopkins of 30 arrests in the Bradford area, saying they were as a result of a number of different investigations.
He said all 30 people had been released on police bail and that no charges had yet been brought.
Last night, Councillor Ralph Berry said tackling sexual grooming was a top priority and there was a “very effective operation” going on.
He said: “It’s important we identify, arrest and prosecute anybody who’s engaged in this activity, and I don’t know of anybody who thinks otherwise.”