Thirty people have been arrested in the space of two months in the Bradford area by police investigating child sex grooming, an inquiry by MPs was told yesterday.
Kris Hopkins, the Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley, said the crackdown – revealed to him, by the police – showed the days when alleged “political correctness” made the authorities reluctant to act were gone.
Arguing it was impossible to say whether child grooming was increasing, or on the decline, he told the inquiry: “It’s highlighted now – people have the confidence to come forward and the police are pursuing people.
“Across the Bradford district, at this moment in time, 30 people have been arrested in the last two months and there are ongoing cases.”
“I’ve no doubt at all that the police – certainly the police who work in my area – know what’s expected by the law and by politicians as well.”
Praising Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, commander of the Airedale and North Bradford division, Mr Hopkins said: “There’s no political correctness. Leaders in the district want those perpetrators of this vile activity brought to justice.”
The MP was speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which has started an inquiry into child grooming, after scandals in Rochdale and Rotherham.
In November, Mr Hopkins triggered a furious row when he claimed gangs of Muslim men were “going round and raping white kids”, fuelled by a cultural background that encouraged brutal sexism against all women.
Yesterday, the MP urged the Pakistani community to “come to terms” with the problem, telling the committee that Pakistani women were the key.
Mr Hopkins said he had met Home Secretary Theresa May – and would soon meet Communities Secretary Eric Pickles – adding: “I want to get women empowered in that community. Young leaders, to really become the voice in that community, and really challenge the behaviour of men.”
The inquiry also heard from Ann Cryer, the former Keighley and Ilkley Labour MP, who spoke out against sex abuse by a minority of Pakistani men in Keighley a decade ago – a campaign which resulted in her being branded a racist. Yesterday, Mrs Cryer noted the lack of action, back in 2002, by police and council social services, saying: “It seemed they were terrified about being called racist.”
The former MP said she had “mixed emotions” about discussing the issue so many years later, telling MPs: “I am pleased that people recognise that what I was saying was right. But I’m very upset that – after 12 years, or 11 years – we are still getting these cases.”
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman later confirmed the figure given by Mr Hopkins of 30 arrests in the Bradford area was correct. He said they were as a result of a number of different investigations, but declined to comment on the nature of the investigations. He said all 30 people had been released on police bail and that no charges had yet been brought against any of them.
Last night, Councillor Ralph Berry, executive member for children’s services at Bradford Council, said tackling sexual grooming was a top priority and there was a ‘very effective operation’ going on.
He said: “I’m fully behind the partnership between Bradford Social Services, the police and Barnardo’s in working to tackle any sexual grooming by anyone on anyone.”