Telford MP Lucy Allan has taken police to task for ignoring large-scale child sexual exploitation by mostly Muslim (98%) grooming gangs, with abusers only having to say they did not know the victim’s age to escape justice.
Despite the age of consent across the United Kingdom being 16, men abusing significantly younger children were able to get the police off their backs simply by claiming the victims consented and that they did not know they were underage.
“All the perpetrators have to do is say, ‘The victim willingly met for sex and did not tell me her age’,” complained Allan, who has campaigned determinedly for a proper inquiry into the widely unreported abuse of around a thousand girls in her constituency, as well as tightening of the consent laws.
“As each case comes to light, we cannot just go on wringing our hands and saying how horrific it is that different cases are emerging up and down the country,” she added, emphasising the need for concrete action.
Allan described how police treated one 13-year-old as a willing participant in her abuse by a group of older men, even after she became pregnant and her parents reported what was happening.
“The grooming began while she was celebrating her 13th birthday in a local restaurant. While she was still 13, she became pregnant by one of those men, and her parents realised what was going on and went to the police.
“The identity of the perpetrators was not an issue and arrests were quickly made.
“Two things went wrong, however: the police failed to identify that the men were connected to each other, or that the child had been groomed. The police treated the men as if each one was in a separate relationship with the child.
“She was treated as willingly engaging in sexual activity with men she had voluntarily chosen to have a relationship with.
“How can the authorities assume that a child as young as 13 would willingly consent to sex with multiple men?” Allan demanded.
“Let us be honest: in the cases I am talking about, the men are not in the child’s social network — they are not young teenagers from the child’s school, or known to the child’s parents or older siblings,” the MP said.
“They are groups of adult men targeting young girls through street grooming or in takeaways and restaurants.
“How can the police possibly assume with good reason that the targeted child consents simply because she did not refuse sexual intercourse?
“Consent must be freely given without duress or coercion. Consent is a voluntary act.”