Official Review: Newcastle Groomers Targeted Victims with ‘Arrogant Persistence’ as Authorities ‘Blamed the Victims’
Authorities have apologised after mostly Muslim grooming gangs in Newcastle were allowed to target around 700 vulnerable women and girls with “arrogant persistence” because allegations were “not investigated”.
As in other grooming cases, the attackers – of mainly Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian background, and including an asylum seeker – plied their victims with drugs and alcohol.
But unlike other scandals, many of those targeted were vulnerable over 18s, the, a 150-page Serious Case Review (SCR) report has found.There is now an “urgent need” for the Government to commission research into the “cultural values and attitudes” of grooming gangs, the report adds, calling on authorities to assume abuse is happening in every town and city.
In August 2017, 17 men and one woman were convicted of attacks on 22 women and girls aged from 13 to 25 between 2011 and 2014, following Northumbria Police’s Operation Sanctuary.
The SCR found there were in fact around 700 victims of similar forms of sexual exploitation across the larger Northumbria Police force area, with 108 in the city of Newcastle.
Yet some of those investigating believe this number is just the “tip of the iceberg”, the report adds.
It says abusers were “not consistently investigated, disrupted and prosecuted” before 2014, and notes that “early responses had the appearance of blaming the victims for their behaviour and allocating them responsibility for making bad choices”.
It also claims the response was “swift, determined and committed” after several victims came forward, however.Unlike in Rotherham, “there was no evidence that any action or inaction by police or any other staff or officials were motivated or affected by fears of allegations of racism”, the report suggests.
The only attacker to co-operate with the report was an asylum seeker who singled out non-Muslims and targeted a 15-year-old girl. In a shocking and revealing passage, the report explains:
“He displayed no regret, claimed he only had sex with girls over the age of 16 years old and that they knew what they were doing.
“They were responsible and brought drugs onto his premises. One was homeless so what could he do? He was convicted because of a conspiracy by the Government, police and the judge who paid the victims.“If convicted for rape in his home country, he would be beheaded or buried up to the neck and stoned. He was asked about what he thought about the United Kingdom and influences in his education. He said you can get anything here – any sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no control.
“He spoke in a derogatory way about lack of morals in British girls and did not go with Muslim girls because there are not many of them.”
The reports’ author, barrister David Spicer, said: “Towns and cities across the country can learn a great deal from Newcastle; how it is dealing with this very serious national issue of women and girls being exploited sexually.”
He claimed that, “unlike some other areas, Newcastle agencies did not try and sweep this under the carpet but actively went looking for it and as a result a large number of perpetrators were arrested and prosecuted, and victims saved from further trauma.”Adding: “Sadly, it is still happening in Newcastle and other cities, but this city is determined to tackle it.”
Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council, Pat Ritchie, said: “Sexual exploitation is happening in towns and cities across the country but what we have learned can be used to help others.
“We know it is still going on in our city, but we are doing everything in our power to prevent it, disrupt it and deal with it, and support the victims for years to come.”