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East Lancs MPs call on Pakistani community to root out paedophiles
BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw and Pendle Tory Andrew Stephenson have backed Children’s Minister Edward Timpson’s call for the Pakistani community to root out paedophiles in its midst.
Mr Timpson told a Commons inquiry into street grooming that in the past there had not been ‘robust investigations’ into such offences because of ‘cultural sensitivities or political correctness’.
He told the Home Affairs Select Committee: “We’ve seen a pattern develop within a minority of some Pakistani communities where there have been particular traits of activity that have continued for far too long without being detected, properly investigated and followed through with a prosecution.”
The two East Lancashire MPs agreed and local Pakistani politicians said raised awareness following the recent Rochdale child abuse case, when nine men were jailed for grooming girls as young as 13, had led to more action.
Mr Straw, who spoke out after the scandal was exposed, said: “Basically he is right. Some parts of the Pakistani community have been in wilful denial about this. In East Lancashire, especially Blackburn with Darwen, we have been more on top of this. I hope things are changing.”
Mr Stephenson said: “The minister is right. There have been horrific cases in East Lancashire and a lot of effort has been spent talking to Imams and teachers. The Pakistani community locally needs to be more ruthless about rooting this out.”
Senior Blackburn with Darwen councillor Mohammed Khan said: “This affects all communities. I think awareness is rising since the Rochdale case and people are more likely to report possible child sex abuse.”
Pendle Labour group leader Mohammed Iqbal said: “It is unfair to single out the Pakistani community. People in the community are now more aware of the tell-tale signs of child abuse so can do more about it.”
Former senior Lancashire detective Mick Gradwell added: “In 2011, Mr Straw's concerns that some men of Pakistani heritage were involved in the sexual exploitation of vulnerable white teenage girls were given widespread publicity. Since that time the police have put considerable resources into addressing child sexual exploitation. The police in Blackburn and Burnley have developed multi-agency teams that tackle child sexual exploitation.'”
A Lancashire police spokesman said: “Offenders come from many different social and ethnic backgrounds. We recognise in some areas the number of Asian offenders is disproportionate. We have been tackling the issue head on by working with the local communities and visiting mosques.”