"The grooming of vulnerable teenage girls for sex is being investigated by the country's specialist exploitation unit.Former home secretary Jack Straw sparked a backlash after claiming the conviction was evidence of a specific problem among young men in the UK's Pakistani community.
Experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre are to carry out the work, which comes after the indefinite jailing of two Asian men for abusing girls aged between 12 and 18.
Ceop, affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency, was set up in 2006 and its staff include police officers and members of organisations such as the NSPCC.
On Friday Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed at Nottingham Crown Court for raping and sexually abusing several girls, often after giving them alcohol or drugs. They were the prime movers in a group of men who befriended girls aged 12 to 18 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex.
Mr Straw, who represents Blackburn, said such crimes were a "specific problem" in the Pakistani community which needed to be "more open" about the reasons.
But fellow Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the home affairs select committee, rejected his colleague's claims and insisted the case was not symbolic of any "cultural problem". Children's charity Barnardo's, Muslim youth group The Ramadhan Foundation and a retired police chief also said Mr Straw was wrong to highlight one community."
Straw put the cat amongst the pigeons (pig in the mosque?) with his views. He ventured onto the egg-shell floor where almost any remark that refers to ethnicity sends the PC brigades into a frenzy. To give him his due he agreed that there were many white men in prison for sex offences. This seemed to have been ignored by his opponents.
The proposed CEOP inquiry might be a tool to cut through the barriers that exist in any process towards integration. The mother of one of the girls abused is reported as saying that the Muslim religion of the offenders was not the issue - they did what they did because they knew they could get away with it.
The matter arose following a Times newspaper article* ("A culture of silence that has facilitated the sexual exploitation of hundreds of young British girls by criminal pimping gangs is exposed by The Times today. For more than a decade, child protection experts have identified a repeated pattern of sex offending in towns and cities across northern England and the Midlands involving groups of older men who groom and abuse vulnerable girls aged 11 to 16 after befriending them on the street.")
Far be it for me to correct The Thunderer, but I consider there are two things that need to be considered. There are those (young) Pakistani males who approach and subvert the girls and also there are those (older and sometimes fathers themselves) who take advantage of the delivery service of drunk or drugged white girls provided by the young men. This is where I think 'conspiracy of silence' is appropriate. I see no reports of any end-user being charged in respect of the offences disclosed. If the same attention were given to this group, it should limit the demands of a market served by the young recruiters.
What is really needed is a debate regarding the conduct of those who come from overseas or were born in UK as members of any separate racial group. We have affirmative actions that are designed to benefit minorities who wish to live in a separate culture to the majority. What we seem to lack is action to explain to the minorities how they may best conduct themselves with a view to the assimilation we all support. A prime example of this void is the question of introduction of sharia law. It is here (Times link - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4749183.ece)
Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.
Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.
Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.
Siddiqi said: “We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.” All sounds very clear - but, there is a problem. "Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, claim to live under pure sharia law and enforce the penalties for Hadd offences. In others, such as Pakistan, the penalties have not been enforced. The majority of Middle Eastern countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, have not adopted Hadd offences as part of their state laws.
Hadd offences carry specific penalties, set by the Koran and by the prophet Mohammed. These include unlawful sexual intercourse (outside marriage); false accusation of unlawful intercourse; the drinking of alcohol; theft; and highway robbery. Sexual offences carry a penalty of stoning to death or flogging while theft is punished with cutting off a hand.
"This is a system of criminal law which has become a potent symbol of Islamisicing the law," says Dr Welchman. "But there is the question of whether it's actually applied in the countries which have adopted it. There is supposed to be a very high burden of proof, but that clearly often doesn't happen in practice." So even if sharia law were universally accepted, we would not have something that is agreed by those who seek it. There have been reports of rape victims being punished by flogging. How would such treatment in UK sit with the empowered sisterhood?
What about honour killings? "An Iranian civil rights activist who is due to be deported from the UK tomorrow could face the death penalty and fears being murdered by her family in an "honour killing" if she is sent back to Iran," If sharia law sentences someone to death or amputation, where does UK law stand?
E pluribus unum is a fine aim but even where it is sought officially, there are serious problems. What this country requires is one law for all regardless of racial beliefs or origins.
* Link is to a mirror - Times material is behind a pay-wall