Suella Braverman told to 'get real' over child sex abuse

Labour’s Lisa Nandy tells Suella Braverman to ‘get real’ and says child sex abuse is happening ‘across all cultures’ after Home Secretary vows action against ‘white English girls’ being targeted by ‘British Pakistani’ gangs

  • People working with children will be put under a legal duty to report abuse

Labour’s Lisa Nandy today told Home Secretary Suella Braverman to ‘get real’ as she stressed that child sexual exploitation was happening ‘across all cultures’.

The shadow levelling up, housing and communities secretary warned that ‘singling out’ a ‘particular group’ risked missing abuse happening ‘in plain sight’.

Ms Nandy hit out after Mrs Braverman had earlier spoken of ‘vulnerable white English girls’ being harmed by ‘gangs of British Pakistani men’.

The Home Secretary is unveiling plans to put people working with children in England under a new legal duty to report ‘signs or suspicions’ of sexual abuse.

It comes after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse last year described sexual abuse of children as an ‘epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake’.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman spoke of ‘vulnerable white English girls’ being harmed by ‘gangs of British Pakistani men

Labour’s Lisa Nandy warned that ‘singling out’ a ‘particular group’ risked missing abuse happening ‘in plain sight’

The seven-year inquiry into institutional failings in England and Wales concluded that people in positions of trust should be compelled by law to report child sexual abuse.

Mrs Braverman this morning described a ‘systematic and institutional failure’ to protect children from sexual abuse as ‘one of the biggest scandals in recent years in our history’.

The Home Secretary revealed a consultation on the plans would ensure ministers ‘get the legal duty right’ without ‘unintended consequences’.

‘What we’ve seen is a practice whereby vulnerable white English girls sometimes in care, sometimes who are in challenging circumstances, being pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who have worked in child abuse rings or networks,’ she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show.

‘We have seen institutions and state agencies, whether it is social workers, teachers, the police, turn a blind eye to these signs of abuse out of political correctness, out of fear of being called racist, out of fear of being called bigoted.’

Mrs Braverman was challenged about a Home Office study published in 2020 that found child sexual abuse gangs are most commonly made up of white men.

But the Home Secretary pointed to other reports, including into the Rotherham abuse scandal, as being ‘unflinching in their assessment of the problem’. 

‘There have been several reports since about the predominance of certain ethnic groups – and I say British Pakistani males – who hold cultural values totally at odds with British values.

‘Who see women in a demeaned and illegitimate way and who pursue an outdated and frankly heinous approach in terms of the way they behave.

‘We’ve got to stamp that out with criminal law and proper safeguarding and we are only going to do that if, as a society, we face up to the facts and the truth of what’s actually going on.’

Ms Nandy later told the Home Secretary to ‘get real’ about the problem of child sexual exploitation.

‘We’re failing young people in this country online, on our streets and in their homes because the Government is simply just not taking it seriously,’ the Labour frontbencher told the same programme.

‘Here we are after 13 years of Tory government and finally the Home Secretary has just woken up and said “let’s do something about it” and all we’ve got is a consultation. That is not the mark of a serious Government.’

Ms Nandy stressed that child abuse happens ‘across all cultures’ as she pointed to her previous work for the Children’s Society before becoming an MP.

‘When I was working with children and young people there were particular issues with Kurdish and Pakistani gangs in some parts of the country,’ she said.

‘There were also huge issues with white men grooming young girls online and there were also problems with boys as well; let’s not forget that boys don’t escape from these problems, it’s just that often what happens is that they go even more unreported and unrecognised than girls.

‘I think the problem with what the Home Secretary is trying to do is she is trying to single out one particular profile and one particular group.

‘The risk is, if you do that, you miss the fact that there is child abuse going on in plain sight in homes, on the streets and online and we ought to surely be aiming to keep all young people safe from the harm that is created and not just singling out some young people and highlighting those forms of abuse and discrimination.’

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