Offences against Children

Home Office written question – answered on 23rd March 2021.

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Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 January (HL11680), as part of their report Group-based Child Sexual Exploitation Characteristics of Offending, published in December 2020, whether (1) the Home Office, or (2) the External Reference Group, considered the report of the Quilliam Foundation Group Based Child Sexual Exploitation – Dissecting Grooming Gangs, published on 12 December 2017; and, if so, what assessment they made of the finding of that report that 84 per cent of perpetrators had Asian heritage, of which the majority were (1) British-Pakistani, and (2) Muslim.

Photo of Lord Pearson of Rannoch Lord Pearson of Rannoch Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 January (HL11680), as part of their report Group-based Child Sexual Exploitation Characteristics of Offending, whether any members of their External Reference Group sought to include Islamic teaching among the cultural drivers for offending; and if so, how many.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

It is important to acknowledge and address the cultural contexts in which group-based child sexual exploitation occurs, and this is something the External Reference Group (ERG) considered at length. However, no member of the Group sought to include Islamic teaching as a driver for offending.

The ERG was established with the specific purpose of reviewing and informing the paper, ‘Group-based Child Sexual Exploitation Characteristics of Offending’. The ERG did not specifically discuss Quilliam’s report. However, as part of its work in producing the paper, the Home Office published an independently peer-reviewed literature review, which considered published studies of group-based child sexual exploitation. The literature review made the following assessment:

Research by Quilliam asserted that 84% of 264 offenders convicted for grooming gang offences between 2005 and 2017 were Asian, 8% were Black, 7% were White and 1% were of unknown ethnicity. This figure of 84% has been widely repeated as academic evidence for an extreme over-representation of Asian offenders despite a lack of clarity about sampling and data analysis methods. For example, the authors identify 264 offenders, but do not specify how they were found, or how their ethnicity was categorised. These findings are therefore not suitable for drawing conclusions about ethnicity of group-based CSE offenders.

When publishing the paper, the Home Secretary expressed her disappointment in the quality of data on the characteristics of offending and committed to addressing this issue. As such, in the new national Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, the Government commits to engaging with criminal justice partners, academics, think tanks, charities and frontline professionals on improving the range, quality and analysis of data collected, to help protect children by preventing and detecting offending.

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