Today I am publishing a paper on the characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation, which was prompted by high-profile cases of sexual grooming in towns including Rochdale and Rotherham.
An external reference group, consisting of independent experts on child sexual exploitation, reviewed and informed this work. Members included Labour MP for Rotherham Sarah Champion, Conservative MP for Wakefield Imran Ahmad Khan, survivor and campaigner Sammy Woodhouse, and Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs Council lead on child protection.
The paper summarises studies which suggest individuals committing group-based child sexual exploitation are predominantly, but not exclusively, male and often under the age of 30.
Studies indicate that motivations differ between offenders, but that 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.
Offenders can come from a range of social backgrounds —some have been stable middle-class professionals, some of whom were married, whilst others have had more chaotic lifestyles.
Some studies have indicated an over-representation of Asian and black offenders. However, it is difficult to draw robust 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.
Victims and survivors of these abhorrent crimes have told me how they were let down by the state in the name of political correctness. What happened to these children remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience. I am determined to ensure the Government, law enforcement and other partners better understand any community and cultural factors relevant to tackling offending—helping us to safeguard children from abuse, deliver justice for victims and survivors, and restore the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to confront these repulsive crimes.
The paper is available on gov.uk https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/group-based-child-sexual-exploitation-characteristics-of-offending). A copy of the paper will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
I thank Members for their continued engagement on this important issue.