Ahead of the UK general election in 2010 and fearing that findings might spark racial tensions, Britain’s second largest police force suppressed the release of a report detailing how criminal gangs were sexually grooming vulnerable young girls.
RT report: West Midlands Police were informed in 2010 that 139 girls – some of whom were only 13 years of age – were at serious risk of exploitation from groups of men. However, the force failed to issue a public alert or appeal for information.
This sobering revelation was first uncovered by the Birmingham Mail under Freedom of Information (FoI). The paper had submitted its request as part of a broader investigation into sexual exploitation of children.
A document dating back to March 2010, sent to the Birmingham Mail, suggests Asian gangs were targeting children’s care home and schools in the West Midlands area.
Titled ‘Problem Profile, Operation Protection,’ the files also indicate young Caucasian girls were coerced into recruiting their peers into the gang’s web of exploitation.
Allegedly produced by senior intelligence officers, the report’s findings caused concern ahead of May 2010’s General Election. Fears it could drum up racial tensions and cause commotion ahead of polling day allegedly led to its suppression.
The documents, released under FoI, have been heavily redacted.
One passage reads: “In [redacted] a teacher at a [redacted] that a group of Asian males were approaching pupils at the school gate and grooming them. Strong anecdotal evidence shows this MO [modus operandi] is being used across the force.
“Operations in other forces have identified an MO where offenders use a young girl in a children’s home to target and groom other residents on their behalf.”
The file further suggests recruiting other youngsters was a means for victims to “escape the cycle of abuse” they were forced to deal with. It says this pattern had surfaced in other English regions.
The internal report, seen by the Birmingham Mail, said police had identified as many as 139 victims. Some 78 percent were white, while over 50 percent were aged 13 to 15.
Half of these victims, who hailed from Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall, lived with their parents. Meanwhile, 41 percent were in residential care.
At the time of the investigation, police located 75 grooming suspects, most of whom had a history of sexual offences. The report says most of these criminal suspects had an Islamic background and lived in Birmingham.
The report uncovered evidence of what it described as “a high level of organized criminality” in the West Midlands, with numerous offenders working in unison to target, groom and exploit victims.
It said young girls were forced into prostitution by these sex abuse networks, and severe intimidation was used to keep them silent.
Speaking to RT on Friday, Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said the released files offer valuable insight into West Midland Police’s methods for investigating and tackling child sex abuse.
“There is no doubt that there has been a significant cultural change within the force in respect of this issue and it is now very clear that the responsibility of tackling child sexual exploitation lies with every police officer, staff member, PCSO and special constable,” he said.
“We continue to take great steps and as a result of our efforts … we are seeing more victims coming forward to report abuse,” he added.
West Midlands Police insisted it takes allegations of child sex abuse very seriously, and will continue to treat all reports of such offenses “sensitively and respectfully.”
It is unclear whether the West Midlands Police force was advised by Gordon Brown’s then-Labour government to withhold the report’s findings from the public ahead of the 2010 general election. However, a spokesperson for the force told RT on Friday all police bodies across the UK are answerable to Westminster.
The release of the files comes after Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) identified 300 potential suspects in an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. The law enforcement agency revealed on Wednesday that two suspects under investigation previously acted as councilors in the South Yorkshire town.