Britain's grooming gangs EXPOSED: Staggering figures reveal extent of problem 'still active'

Britain's grooming gangs EXPOSED: Staggering figures reveal extent of problem 'still active'

Laura Harris met with GB News reporter Charlie Peters

GB News
Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 21/05/2024

- 14:55

Updated: 21/05/2024

- 15:57

‘There is still grooming gang activity,’ says Laura Farris

In an exclusive interview with GB News the Safeguarding minister revealed Britain's grooming gangs are still a huge problem and are very much 'active'

Some 20 percent of child abuse convictions involved grooming gangs, the safeguarding minister warned today.

Revealing that grooming gang activity is extensive and ongoing, Laura Farris spoke to GB News on the anniversary of the formation of the Home Office’s specialist grooming gangs taskforce.

“There are lots of different types of child sexual exploitation, a lot of it on the dark web, I'm afraid to say quite a bit, takes place in families and in households, but there is a chunk, around 20% of the convictions that we see that are grooming gangs,” Farris said.

She continued: “The reason the Prime Minister set up the task force is, although we’ve got far greater knowledge of grooming gangs, how and where they’ve operated historically, there is still grooming gang activity.

"It’s obviously very hidden from view, and the point of it is to use the skills from the National Crime Agency, police leaders, the National Police Chiefs Council to develop specialist training, which has now gone out to 400 officers working across England and Wales to give them the in-depth skills they need to identify and crack the gangs.”

The specialist taskforce has today said that it has achieved over 550 arrests, but could not give details on any charges.

Mrs Farris said local forces had a “reticence” to deal with grooming issues in the past, but the new taskforce and the national effort had created a more “holistic” approach for dealing with child abuse.

The minister said that the key to the 550 arrests and 4,000 child victims protected by the taskforce has been the move to embed national experts into the 47 forces across England and Wales.

“The whole point of it is to link up the national effort so that you don't have one force saying, well, we might have 1 or 2 perpetrators here, another completely different force not speaking to that one, saying we’ve got 4 or 5 here,” she said, adding that the new approach gave a “much more holistic” overview of the threat posed by abuse gangs.

The minister also said that it “sounds sensible” to impose visa sanctions on countries that do not accept grooming gang offenders being deported to their country of origin.

The Nationality and Borders Act allows the government to apply visa penalties to countries that do not accept foreign criminals who have been deported.

Asked if she supports using that power on countries such as Pakistan that are refusing to accept grooming gang offenders after they’ve been convicted, Farris said she would “look into the details of which people they haven’t accepted as returns.”

She added: “It is a principle of our domestic law that if a person has a sentence of two years or longer and they're not a British national, they qualify for automatic deportation following the conclusion of their sentence. So the deportation of foreign national offenders is embedded in our law. And from what you're saying, although I don't know the exact detail, yes, it sounds sensible.”

No police officers were fired after the investigation from the Independent Office for Police Conduct into South Yorkshire Police’s handling of the Rotherham crisis, with victims telling GB News that this has caused a lack of accountability.

Laura Farris said that this did not cause her any concern.

“It is right that you pushed me on Rotherham, but most of the offending that was the subject of Professor Jay’s report happened now probably 20 years ago.

“That doesn’t make it any less serious. But as I say, it was a watershed moment and there has been profound change in both policing and in society since that time.”

Asked if the minister now has confidence in the police’s approach to understanding and tackling group-based child sexual exploitation, Farris said “I do, I really do.”

She continued: “Some of the work I’m hearing about from the forces through the task force really impresses me.”

Farris revealed the complexity of the gangs, with some members of grooming gangs not knowing each other while they target victims online.

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