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MPs back police in crackdown on grooming
The district’s MPs are calling for more tough action against street grooming gangs who prey on vulnerable young girls.
Yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus revealed that 54 child sex suspects have been arrested across the Bradford district in the last five months.
And those cases are shockingly similar to the recent jailing of two Asian paedophiles who travelled to Keighley to snare, drug and rape young girls, said Airedale and North Bradford commander Chief Supt Angela Williams.
She said this wave of arrests was proof of success, rather than an indicator of the volume of sex crime.
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said he had confidence in Chief Supt Williams and praised her and police for their commitment to tackling such offences.
“They really have responded to the public demand and addressed this issue,” he said. “Historically there has been a lack of resolve to take on the issue of street grooming.
“But the victims and their families deserve the state to face up to this.
“This is a big issue and the severity of the sentence shows that the courts are responding to what society wants,” said Mr Hopkins (Keighley, Con).
Mr Hopkins said street grooming was not the exclusive preserve of one particular race or religion, nor confined to Keighley and Bradford. “The individuals’ faith is not the issue and it is not about one specific town or area.
“What we have to do is empower our communities to challenge this behaviour in men and instil appropriate values in boys.”
Bradford West’s Respect MP George Galloway said he was glad the police were making such progress: “This sort of crime is utterly sickening, intolerable and the strongest possible punishment should be meted out to these perverts,” he said. “It is good to see the police cracking down.”
Mr Galloway also made the point that religious background was not an issue.
“Nobody of any true belief would carry out such despicable acts,” Mr Galloway said.
Bradford East Lib Dem MP David Ward sits on the Education Select Committee which last month examined a new report on the widespread problem of gangs and groups grooming vulnerable girls for sex.
“It is frightening in terms of the scale of what’s going on,” Mr Ward said. “What is clear is the extent of it and that it is happening nationally. What we need is early identification of those at risk of getting caught up in it.”
Former Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab, Bradford South) said five years ago he helped bring in policies which invested in identifying sex predators. “While on the one hand it seems bad that 54 people have been arrested, it does show we have systems in place that are working,” Mr Sutcliffe said.
“In a way it’s a good sign as it shows that the communities are alive to these issues and working with the police.”
“I went there to meet police officers and all of those involved are doing fantastic job,” he said. “There’s now a lot more going on and I agree with Chief Supt Williams they are doing a good job. This big issue was ignored for too long for politically correct reasons.”