Keighley and Ilkley MP Robbie Moore brought the abhorrent problem of child sexual exploitation and grooming gangs to the forefront last week in a Parliamentary debate on the matter.
The debate was brought about to consider the two e-petitions entitled ‘We the British People Request a Public Inquiry into Grooming Gangs’ and ‘Release the Home Office's Grooming Gang Review in full’ which were signed by 31,211 people and 131,625 people respectively.
In his opening remarks, Robbie paid tribute to the former MP for Keighley and Ilkley, Ann Cryer (1997-2010) who was one of the first MP’s to raise concerns about grooming gangs and child sexual exploitation within the Pakistani community in West Yorkshire over 20 years ago. However very little has changed since this issue was first brought to light. Indeed, Robbie commented on how much correspondence he still receives on this matter and that grooming gang cases are still being investigated and working their way through the courts.
In 2016, a group of 12 men who committed serious sexual offences against two girls in Keighley and Bradford were jailed for a collective 130 years. Last October, 21 men from Keighley and Bradford were arrested for being linked to offences that allegedly occurred against a young female between 2001 and 2009.
Speaking in the Chamber, Robbie said: “ My view is that unless we talk about these heinous crimes openly we are failing, so let us call this problem out for what it is: predominantly a small minority of largely Muslim men in West Yorkshire, including, I am sad to say, in Keighley, that have been sexually exploiting young children for far too long. The Muslim community are quite rightly outraged at the entire community being branded with the same accusation. It is not fair and it is deeply offensive.”
Robbie also made reference to the risk of not addressing the issue, commenting “at the centre of this are innocent, vulnerable young girls whose lives have been ruined through no fault of their own. If we fail to address this, the worst of humanity may exploit it for their own gain. This has already happened of course in the 2005 general election when the far-right BNP made Keighley their No. 1 target seat. We cannot let that happen again.”
Robbie concluded his speech by stating “these are difficult issues to tackle, but all of us in Parliament have a responsibility to take action, because if we do not, we will have failed, and the consequences for our communities will be far too great.”
You can view Robbie’s full speech in the House of Commons here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-02-03/debates/65D3BAF4-00FF-…