The local Asian community has been called upon to do more to prevent grooming after a Government report found it was a problem within the Pakistani community.

An influential group of MPs today released a report into child sex exploitation, which refers to a number of recent cases in the Bradford and Keighley areas.

It says that while grooming is not confined to the Asian community, more needs to be done by that community to challenge those within it who feel it acceptable to target young girls.

Former Keighley MP, Ann Cryer, who was accused of demonising the Asian community when she first raised the issue of Pakistani grooming gangs more than ten years ago, is referred to in the report, as is current MP Kris Hopkins, who recently re-ignited the debate when he claimed grooming was linked to the unchallenged sexist behaviour of many Muslim men.

Both gave evidence to the Government select committee that wrote the report, which concludes: “(Grooming) is a vile crime which is perpetrated by a small number of individuals, and abhorred by the vast majority, from every ethnic group. However, evidence presented to us suggests that there is a model of localised grooming of mainly Pakistani-heritage men targeting young white girls.

“It is important that police, social workers and others be able to raise their concerns freely, without fear of being labelled racist.”

After hearing the report backed up much of what she said, Mrs Cryer said: “You cannot blame the whole of the community, but they are the ones who have to talk about it. They can’t just say ‘it’s disgraceful’ when something like this happens. If they suspect for one minute that someone they know is doing something like this they have to take them to task.

“We need female community leaders like councillors to speak up – they are in the perfect position to stand up to this attitude.”

The report includes comments from Mr Hopkins referring to the backlash against Mrs Cryer: “The victimhood that ran through the community gave an excuse for not facing up to the problem. I went to lots of public events to discuss the issue, but all I heard was that Ann’s comments undermined the community. The community failed to face up to the core issues that Ann was putting out there.”

Discussing today’s report he said: “I still think to a large degree the community hasn’t come to terms with it. They are not always prepared to challenge this behaviour. If community leaders are not prepared to speak out about this, then we need to bypass these community leaders.”

Bradford’s Council of Mosques said the report was “timely and appropriate,” adding: “It is good to see that the Government is taking a stance which is in line with the consensus of the community in Bradford.

“Council for Mosques (Bradford), alongside Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police, has already shown leadership ahead of the report by putting in place appropriate support networks. However, we are not complacent. We urge all communities to take a robust stance regarding this menace.

“There is no excuse for any agency to feel inhibited from taking a clear stance and an effective action against the perpetrators of these vile crimes.”