Grooming gang review kept secret as Home Office claims releasing findings ‘not in public interest’
Lizzie Dearden of the Independent spends much of her time criticising and mocking Tommy Robinson, but I think a lot of what he says is getting through to her. From the Independent
Exclusive: Freedom of Information request refused so ministers have ‘safe space’ to discuss policy
The government is refusing to release official research on the characteristics of grooming gangs, claiming it is not in the “public interest”.
Survivors accused ministers of making “empty promises”, while a man who prosecuted abusers in Rochdale called for the Home Office to “show some courage and publish” its findings.
It comes after The Independent revealed that almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year, sparking renewed calls for prevention efforts.
Sajid Javid promised the review as home secretary in July 2018, pledging that there would be “no no-go areas of inquiry”. “I will not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it,” he said at the time. “We know that in these recent high profile cases, where people convicted have been disproportionately from a Pakistani background. . . “
But the government has made no further announcements on the review following Mr Javid’s move to the Treasury last year . . .
In December, The Independent was told that the work had been completed but would only be used for internal policy-making and would not be publicly released.
In response to a freedom of information (FOI) request asking for the research carried out and any reports drawn up as a result, the Home Office confirmed it held the information but would not release it.
In a letter to The Independent, officials said they had applied a “public interest test” but the information was exempt from the act because it concerned the development of government policy. . . The Home Office’s FOI unit said the documents also included “operationally sensitive” information from police and could prejudice ongoing investigations.
The letter added: “We recognise that this topic in general and any insight and learning are matters of strong public interest, although it does not necessarily follow that it is in the public interest to disclose any specific information relating to it.”
A woman, who was … sexually abused by a grooming gang in Rotherham and wanted to remain anonymous, said she was “disappointed and frustrated” by the decision not to release the report. “The government’s repeated failure to acknowledge the role of racism and religious bigotry in grooming gang crime has led to inadequate investigation, protection and prosecution,” she said.
A former chief prosecutor who initiated charges against a grooming gang in Rochdale warned that far-right groups were using a “vacuum” of reliable information to spread their beliefs and gain support. Nazir Afzal said he had been calling for formal research on potential links between ethnicity and street-based abuse since 2012. “The misinformation and anecdote are exploited by white supremacists and others with an agenda,” he added. “The sooner we have evidence, the sooner we can truly confront it. The Home Office should show some courage and publish.” He’s done some very good work, and I think he’s a decent man at heart, but he carries baggage.
This cannot be allowed to stand. The Grooming gang (rape-squad) review MUST be made public. We are counting on you Priti. What is there to hide but truth?
The comments are good.