Rochdale child sex trial: Case 'has race element', says MP
It would be "daft" to ignore a "race element" to the Rochdale child sex exploitation case, the town's MP has said.
Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: "I don't think it is a racial crime but race is involved."
Nine men have been jailed for being part of a child sex ring in Rochdale which groomed girls for sex.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the case was about "adults preying on vulnerable young children" and not race.
The nine defendants, eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan, received sentences of between four and 19 years at Liverpool Crown Court.
Jailing them, Judge Gerald Clifton, said: "All of you treated (the victims) as though they were worthless and beyond any respect.
"One of the factors leading to that was the fact that they were not part of your community or religion."
Police maintained throughout the trial that the offences were sexually motivated and not racially motivated.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said: "It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men."
'Under the radar'
Mr Danczuk said: "There is a subculture of a small group of males that are Asian, that are collaborating to abuse young white girls who are vulnerable.
"The subculture is under the radar. Some people in communities are in denial about it but we need some home truths if we are going to address this.
"It would be daft not to believe that race plays a part."
Labour MP and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz, said: "I do not believe it's a race issue."
His belief, he said, was based on ACC Heywood's comments and evidence from the Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz.
She said the problem of men grooming young girls and boys for sex was not a problem confined to the Pakistani community and it was happening across every single religious and ethnic group.
"What we need to do is to have a far reaching investigation into these crimes and the causes of these crimes," said Mr Vaz.
Martin Narey, former head of the Prison Service, said: "Sex offenders are overwhelmingly white and I think there is evidence that those guilty of online grooming are overwhelmingly white but for this particular sort of crime, the street grooming and trafficking of girls in northern towns - Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Oldham and Rochdale - there is disturbing evidence that Asians are overwhelmingly represented in the prosecutions for such offences."
"Most Asians would abhor what we have seen in the Rochdale trial," he added.
Mr Narey, who is also a former chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, said: "I spent my last two or three years in Barnardo's listening to people muttering about the reality of this but not wanting to say anything publicly."
IIrfan Chishti, from the Rochdale Council of Mosques, which represents 14 mosques in the town, said that to say street grooming was a racial issue was too simplistic.
"Race is one element in this case," he said. "But what I want to focus on is the many other issues, that of criminality, exploitation and the vulnerability of our young children."
Five girls gave evidence in the Rochdale case but police believe up to 47 may have been involved.