Concerning Operation Sanctuary, a police operation to expose child sex trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice in the Newcastle area, we learned yesterday: “Eighteen people have been convicted of abusing girls in Newcastle who were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex. The vulnerable victims, some as young as 14, were exploited by a “cynical organisation”, a court heard. The 17 men and one woman were convicted of rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution. Over the course of four trials, 20 young women gave evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014. These trials involved 26 defendants, who were mostly Asian, facing a total of more than 100 charges and 22 victims. Those prosecuted were from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle”.
Sadly, the story has a sense of déjà vu given the recent Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal, which contains many of the hall marks of the latest one, remains indelibly etched on many minds. Even some of the responses have a familiar ring. Hope not Hate posted a link to a story titled: “Community “profoundly saddened” by grooming and sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable adults in Newcastle”. It refers to a letter by many of its community and faith leaders: “We the community, faith leaders and non faith leaders, individuals and groups in the City of Newcastle, are proud of the strong and supportive relationships that exist between different groups in our community. We are all profoundly saddened by the shocking cases of grooming and child exploitation, including exploitation of vulnerable adults, uncovered by police investigations. We are also conscious that members of all communities are amongst those who are most disturbed and devastated by these crimes. It is important now that we do not compound the profound suffering that victims of these crimes have endured by casting blame on entire communities, and we all need to support one another in the aftermath of these events”. Then, unsurprisingly, Tommy Robinson chips in, in typical fashion: “Yet another Muslim grooming gang convicted of raping and abusing children. Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish origins but mostly British born. This is nothing to do with culture this is Islamic supremacy that teaches non Muslims are worthless”.
One twist to the story is that in order to get a conviction the police paid an informant, who was a convicted child rapist. They justified this with a variant on the ends justifies the means argument, to which there was an angry response. My own view is inclined to give the police the benefit of the doubt given this evil needed to be exposed. As for the faith leaders, I share their sentiments but feel it does not go far enough. While I abhor racisim and Islamophobia, it is far more important to bring to justice perpetrators of these crimes and sometimes asking difficult questions and taking unpopular action. I have to reluctantly agree with Tommy Robinson, we sometimes fail to act out of political correctness. Both with the Rotherham and Newcastle incidents, Pakistani Muslims were involved, even though I concur the majority from those communities will likely share the same abhorrence as I do. What is also concerning is that what we have seen in these two cases may be a tip of the iceberg, although child sex abuse can take many forms, as one article titled: “Slavery and trafficking ‘affecting every town and city’ in UK” argues, referring to chilling hard data pointing out that such abuse is widespread and horrifying.
While on the subject of child sex abuse, two stories related because of the nature of the crime, they involve pedophile rings and all the victims were vulnerable, have recently come to light. This is besides more run of the mill stories, often involving easier to prosecute people acting alone and known to the victims. One is titled “Justin Bieber: Pedophiles Run The ‘Evil’ Music Industry”. In it this famous celebrity recounts an incident where horrific child sex abuse by powerful people occurred. In a discussion over this, one friend asked why he did not report what happened at the time. In the light of similar such stories, I can only speculate his reasons might be: he wouldn’t be believed, he had little confidence he would be taken seriously by police etc., and if he did report these powerful people who believe with good cause they can operate above the law they would take awful revenge. The other is titled: “Westminster paedophile ring: Top Tory MP ‘murdered girl at vile orgy’ claims new witness”. This relates to something that happened in 1993 and involved the rich, famous and powerful. In a discussion, in response to someone claiming Tory reticence to investigate, I pointed out that one of the perpetrators was a Labour minister.
I am not sure how best to conclude this article. It is one thing to express horror and say something needs to be done, but what? I am mindful of similar situations in other countries and in recent days there have been cases where people have been prosecuted in the USA, and part of “the swamp” involves those engaged in this sort of activity. All these cases are different and have in common it is the young and especially the vulnerable that are exploited by predators. What is clear is that child sex abuse is particularly pernicious and needs to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.