Keighley MP says town's community leaders must do more to tackle grooming

Keighley MP says town's community leaders must do more to tackle grooming

Kris Hopkins

Cllr Abid Hussain

(c)jonchallicom NSPCC launches helpline for girls in danger of female genital mutilation (9978613)

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by

COMMUNITY leaders in Keighley must do more to tackle child sex grooming, claims the town's MP.

Kris Hopkins has blasted a 'wall of silence' over the issue from leading figures, including councillors.

But his allegations have been strongly refuted.

Mr Hopkins spoke out after the Telegraph & Argus revealed 28 men had been arrested by police in Keighley investigating child sexual exploitation cases by an alleged grooming gang.

The arrests relate to alleged offences against four girls.

"My Labour predecessor Ann Cryer was castigated by many people – including from within her own party – for challenging leading members of the British Pakistani community in Keighley to speak out against organised child grooming and I was subjected to similar levels of abuse and name-calling following a speech I gave in parliament on these matters in 2012," said Mr Hopkins.

"In the wake of these latest arrests, I still hear nothing but silence from these so-called leaders, including local councillors."

He commended the police for their investigations and pledged his continuing support to their efforts.

But he added: "These problems cannot be solved in the long term by the police or the local MP. They can only be properly addressed by the community.

"The time has long since come to stop hiding away and show some leadership. This is not a political game. We are talking about young people’s lives being destroyed and enough is enough.”

Keighley Central district councillor Abid Hussain condemned the MP's accusations.

"No right-minded member of the community supports these activities or tries to cover up anything," he said.

"We are doing our best to protect every child and we are fully supportive of the police and commend their efforts. They are doing a good job.

"I don't know where Mr Hopkins is coming from with his comments."

Mohammed Saleem, of Keighley Muslim Association, said the organisation – based at the Emily Street mosque – was doing extensive work to tackle child grooming.

"It is an abhorrent and sinful activity that is prohibited by Islam and shouldn't be accepted in any community or society," he added.

"We actively try to educate people on the issue and are working closely with Bradford Council and the police.

"We have had a seminar and the subject will be discussed at another later this year and we are looking at other ways of tackling it.

"It is certainly not swept under the carpet."

The Keighley investigation is one of three major inquiries West Yorkshire Police is carrying out into alleged multiple offences of child sexual exploitation, with the others being in Leeds and Calderdale.

The issue's profile has been raised by the scandal in Rotherham, where at least 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.

Granville Ward, safeguarding delivery manager for West Yorkshire Police, said the safeguarding board in Bradford had been held up as a model of good practice.

He said: "Extensive work has been ongoing between West Yorkshire Police and partners in recent years to investigate and prevent child sexual exploitation, with the emphasis firmly on experts from agencies working together to put the victim first.

"Police officers meet and work regularly with partners in health and social services in conjunction with safeguarding boards, often from the same offices.

"Bradford district has a single referral process and a child sexual exploitation hub."

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