Rishi Sunak says child sex offenders evaded justice because of ‘political correctness’
During his failed Conservative leadership campaign last year, Sunak had promised policy changes to reveal the ethnicity of offenders as he underlined the safety of children
Prime minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media following the announcement of a new police task force to help officers tackle grooming gangs, on April 3, 2023 in Rochdale, England. (Photo: Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak has set out plans to “stamp out” gangs of child sex offenders and make sure they “cannot hide behind cultural sensitivities”.
“For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women,” the prime minister said ahead of launching a new Grooming Gangs Taskforce to bring “more of the despicable criminals to justice.”
Specialist officers will be drafted into the taskforce to assist the police “with live child sexual exploitation and grooming investigations”.
Data analysts will help the police forces across England catch offenders and this will also include “police recorded ethnicity data”.
During his failed Conservative leadership campaign last year, Sunak had promised policy changes to reveal the ethnicity of offenders as he underlined the safety of children and young women.
The prime minister, who was in Leeds and Greater Manchester on Monday (3) to meet survivors of sex abuse, said the government “will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs.”
Home secretary Suella Braverman has previously claimed that perpetrators of child sex abuse “are groups of men, almost all British Pakistani”, although a 2020 report found group-based sex offenders are “most commonly white”.
But Sunak refused to be drawn into the controversy. He, however, said social workers, local politicians and the police “often ignored” cases of victims and whistleblowers in areas such as Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford because of “cultural sensitivity and political correctness”.
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer agreed with Sunak that political correctness should not get in the way of prosecutions but said “the vast majority of sexual abuse cases do not involve those of ethnic minorities”.
“I am all for clamping down on any kind of case, but if we are going to be serious, we have to be honest about what the overlook is,” Starmer told LBC radio.
Downing Street said the police-led child abuse taskforce will be made up of officers with extensive experience in undertaking grooming gang investigations.
Legislation will be introduced to make leading or being part of a grooming gang “a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing” to ensure the offenders face the toughest sentences for their crimes, the government said.
Braverman said “the despicable abusers” must face the full force of the law for their crimes without being able to hide.