Tom Goodenough

What the papers say: The uncomfortable truths about the grooming gangs

What the papers say: The uncomfortable truths about the grooming gangs
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Modern slavery is affecting every town and city in Britain, according to the National Crime Agency. Despite William Wilberforce saying two hundred years ago: ’Let us put an end at once’ to this practice, ‘slavery persists to this day, probably within a mile of the parliament in which he spoke’. ‘In car washes and in construction…in brothels and in cannabis factories, on farms and in nail bars. More startlingly, they are to be found in homes’, says the Times, The Modern Slavery Act, which passed in 2015, was a ‘tardy recognition of a growing problem’, While yesterday’s warning about the problem provides a stark warning: ‘If the NCA is shocked by the scale of slavery in Britain, we all should be’. For Britain’s law enforcement, the challenge is wide-ranging. But it is not only a matter for the police, points out the Times, calling it ‘a challenge of popular observation’ for us all. ‘Slaves could be in shops on your street, or part of the team building your kitchen extension’, says the Times. It’s our duty now not to turn a blind eye.

The Sun applauds Sarah Champion for speaking honestly about the conviction of a group of British Pakistani men involved in a sexual exploitation ring. ‘It is not racist to speak the unavoidable truth about the predators of Newcastle,’ argues the paper, which repeats the Labour MP’s point that ‘the common denominator’ in this case - as with ‘Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Derby’ - is ‘their ethnic heritage’. With ‘political correctness’ having ‘intimidated anyone singling out the rapists’ ethnicity’ for too long, it’s time to ask a simple question: ‘why?’. The majority of people from within this community are law-abiding, so ‘What made…(these men) into ‘misogynistic, racist perverts?’, asks the Sun. It’s high time for some answers.

For the Guardian, it’s clear that in the past five years ‘There has been an explosion’ in cases of ’gangs of men, mainly but not always Muslim, caught exploiting and abusing vulnerable young white girls’. The paper warns against the ‘moral panic’ being drummed up elsewhere in the media. But it says many of those working in child protection remain worried that ‘there are multiple other cases waiting to be uncovered’. In this cases, the Guardian argues, we must not let ‘the headline interest in religion and ethnicity’ blind us from other common denominators, such as that ‘perpetrators are usually engaged in more than one criminal activity; they often work in the night-time economy as taxi drivers or in fast food outlets’. And ‘only properly funded research’ can help to identify these patterns aimed at ‘correlation from causation, motive from opportunity’. This will ensure that similar cases don’t happen again.