Patrick Christys: Why is it that police forces just don’t care about grooming gangs?

'As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty bleeding obvious that in every major town and city there will be a grooming gang and it looks like we might be about to add another city to that list.'

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Why is it that police forces just don’t care about grooming gangs? They’ll tell you they do, they’ll tell you they’re doing everything within their power to stop it, they’ll tell you that they’re working day and night, tirelessly, to tackle the problem and that they won’t rest until vulnerable, young girls stop being abused on their watch.

But I think they're lying, because they’re not - actually - doing anything like that.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty bleeding obvious that in every major town and city there will be a grooming gang and it looks like we might be about to add another city to that list.

This time, Hull.

A new report has just come out raising serious questions about the police’s response to child grooming gang allegations in the area.

Operation Marksman, an investigation by Humberside Police into an alleged child grooming gang in Hull, wound down earlier this year with no charges against any of the 34 people arrested.

This came as a massive shock to the former head of the child exploitation and online protection service, Jim Gamble, who personally trawled through thousands of pages of evidence and concluded that the case should go to court.

He also said that if police felt they needed additional evidence, then they should go out and get it…and therein lies the problem, doesn’t it. Police having to be proactive and actually go out and get more evidence.

This is harrowing, this is testimony from one alleged victim talking about what she saw taking place in a flat in Hull.

"There was girls as young as primary school there, in primary school uniform.

"I'll never forget that girl I saw sat there in a primary school uniform, probably eight or nine years old.

"She was there with her sister, who was a little bit older, and I remember her screaming in that bedroom."

Humberside police say that there is no evidence of a wide scale, organised grooming gang operating in the area.

Well, in the two years to March 2020, Humberside Police recorded 458 reported rapes of a female aged 15 or under. A fraction of those cases resulted in charges.

Girls have kept diaries and taken pictures of their injuries.

Schools have numerous welfare reports flagging warnings of grooming…including recorded threats from the abusers.

And yet still police bury their heads in the sand.

And it gets worse - A new report from our Yorkshire correspondent Kevin Larkin, revealed that South Yorkshire Police had been investigated in something called Operation Lindon and it focused on police conduct in 91 investigations between 1997-2013.

It looked into 265 allegations and 44 complaints from survivors and it concluded that there is still work to be done when it comes to tackling sex crimes.

South Yorkshire police hasn’t been recording sexual crimes correctly.

There are some really basic things that could and should have been done by now – and indeed would have been done if police forces actually cared about tackling this issue.

It’s emerged that traffic cops can pull over a suspicious car, with what appears to be a vulnerable young child inside it but because they can’t access the data from other police forces, they will have no way of knowing whether or not that child is in immediate danger.

So, if someone is trafficking a child for sex from, say, Bristol to Rotherham, if that car is pulled over in Rotherham, and Bristol’s police force knows that the man in that car is part of a grooming gang, and that the child is being groomed, South Yorkshire police will have no way of knowing.

Well what happens there then? They presumably just wave the car on and that child goes on to face yet another evening of vile abuse.

This is a loophole that needs closing and one would have thought that in the years since thousands of vulnerable girls have been systematically abused by a gang of mostly Pakistani and Bangladeshi men, perhaps our police forces would have considered working together to try to stop the problem.

Look, I have this niggling feeling in my mind and it’s not going away. I can’t help but feel like police forces might think they’re doing some kind of public duty by not revealing the full scale of the problem. Why? Well because, unfortunately, when you see the names and faces of the vast majority of grooming gang perpetrators they appear to be men of a certain ethnic origin and police might not be revealing the full extent of the issue for fear of stoking racial tensions.

Vulnerable young girls don’t care about racism, they care about being abused. I would urge police officers up and down the country to treat these girls as if they were their own daughters, and do something about it.