BBC News 7th January 2011. Girls were given presents, alcohol or drugs before being forced to have sex in cars, rented houses or hotels across the Midlands. The men were both sentenced to indefinite imprisonment with Saddique to serve a minimum of 11 years and Liaqat a minimum of 8. Six other men had been sentenced earlier. A widespread pattern of similar offending was revealed earlier this week by The Times newspaper. The offending ranged across Central Lancashire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and extended southwards into Derbyshire and the Midlands. It remains to be seen whether the revelations in The Times will result in any concerted action by government to deal with what is accepted by responsible members of all communities to be a serious problem.
Interestingly, in July 2010, the government announced that the Serious Organised Crime Agency would be abolished
and a new National Crime Agency created. These reorganisations create uncertainty and, if a new agency is really needed, then it ought to be created sooner rather than later. Such an agency would appear to be necessary in order to coordinate investigations which cross internal Police boundaries and even cross international boundaries.
Something of a political spat has broken out between Keith Vaz MP and Jack Straw MP over comments made by Straw - see BBC 8th January. It is important that investigation and prosecution of these despicable crimes does not get bogged down in political arguments about race. These offences are an affront to all decent people irrespective of race and racial sensitivities should not be permitted to hinder investigation of offences and prosecution of offenders.
See also BBC News 24th November 2010 - "Derby sex gang convicted of grooming and abusing girls."
Addendum 9th January 2011: Previous related posts - An appalling trade 15th August 2010 (trafficking of young girls for sex); The Oldest Profession 19th August 2010.
Addendum 10th January 2011: A lead story in The Times - (link unfortunately not available) - stated that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) would be investigating the "scandal of street grooming by gangs." However, Mr Jim Gamble (who recently resigned as head of Ceop) as well as other supporters of Ceop, said that the Home Secretary's plans to subsume it into a new agency were ill-informed, politically motivated and potentially dangerous for child safety. Support for Mr Gamble came from the President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States who said that Ceop was a "model for the world." Ceop has led investigations such as Operation Chandler in which 31 children were rescued form people who were sharing images. According to The Times, Ceop has so far safeguarded 804 children, aided in the arrest of 1405 suspects and taken down 334 paedophile networks. Ceop is especially proud of its schools awareness scheme (here). It appears that the government's "Bonfire of the Quangos" prevails. The Home Office insists that merger of Ceop into a new National Crime Agency will not imperil its performance.