‘Too politically incorrect’ to target Asian men for child sexual abuse in Telford – report
The inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Telford was told Asian men were not targeted as part of the investigation because it would have been “too politically incorrect”.
Witness evidence suggested West Mercia Police “dropped the case like a hot potato” if complaints were made against Asian families, because it “fell into the too difficult category”.
Multi-agency meetings in the early 2000s, according to the evidence submitted to the inquiry, suggested inappropriate behaviour by an Asian male towards a child was discussed, but no action was taken forward.
One witness who submitted evidence said: “It seemed to be … it was because of the ethnicity of the people involved they felt as if the police were frightened to question or challenge because they didn’t want to have the finger pointed at them, saying they were being racist.”
In its findings, the report said the force’s decisions were impacted by “fear of complaint” or “because of concern about the impact… on racial tensions”.
It said: “I am satisfied that in some cases the decisions of West Mercia Police officers about whether or not to investigate a particular piece of intelligence or complaint were influenced by assumptions about race.
“Whether because of ideas of difficulties investigating what was seen as a closed and hostile community, because of fear of complaint, or because of concern about the impact an investigation might have had on racial tensions, I cannot determine.
“It would, of course, be nonsense to suggest that considerations of race and ethnicity should play no part in policing a community with a large population of a particular racial or ethnic group; but for those considerations to lead to a situation where certain streets are not patrolled, or where certain crimes are not investigated, is a dereliction of the police’s most basic duty.”
The report also suggested that a “disastrous” council decision taken in 2006 to suspend taxi licensing enforcement was also “borne entirely out of fear of accusations of racism”.
At one Telford and Wrekin Council strategy meeting in 2007, which was mentioned in the inquiry, “concerns were reported that taxi drivers were offering free rides for sexual favours”.
In its findings, the report said: “As to taxis, it seems to me to be regrettable that the council did not make earlier use of obvious information sources when making taxi licensing decisions and enforcement.
“In my view, the 2006 decision to suspend licensing enforcement was a disastrous one.
“On the material I have seen it was borne entirely out of fear of accusations of racism; it was craven.”
It continued: “This nervousness about race – and its consequence, reluctance to investigate – was not, in my judgment, confined to West Mercia Police.
“I have no doubt that concern about racism, and being seen to be racist, permeated the mind of the council and the minds of some of its employees.
“That is not a bad thing: there should be a culture of equality of treatment and fairness in delivery.
“But as I have noted elsewhere with regard to the Council’s response to complaints of racism in the field of taxi licensing: there was an immediate, almost reflexive, complete retreat which undermined enforcement – a basic public protection programme – for some years.”
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