Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Note on Policing and Child Sex Exploitation

The abuse of children is in the news again as a further 300 suspects have reportedly been identified by the authorities. As we know, while young girls were trafficked and gang raped with seeming impunity, this was occasioned by widespread institutional failure, as well as the suggestion of some backscratching cover ups. However, the official report into Rotherham didn't expend as much time as it might on something else that didn't acquit itself at all well: the police.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I have no special insights regarding the policing culture or operational challenges facing South Yorkshire Police. Though readers will be familiar with the awful testimony given by abuse survivors on TV, how the police didn't take their complaints (and those of their parents) at all serious and, in some appalling cases, returned some of them to their abusers. An example of institutionalised misogyny that can be overcome by judicious sackings and better training? That might assist in preventing some cases from going undetected/getting fobbed off in future, but another problem is a contradiction in the law. This doesn't excuse police (in)action, but might help to explain in part why this force, among others, had a care free attitude to the young girls caught up in the abuse.

In the UK, the age of consent is 16. The law rules out the capacity for children under this age (the 1989 Children Act defines a child as anyone under 18) to agree to sexual activity and there are a number of penalties that can be applied to any adult who breaks the law. However, keeping in mind the context that historically the legal risks associated with prostitution fall more on the seller of sexual services than the purchaser, the law introduces a difficulty. 16 may be the age of consent, but under the Street Offences Act 1959 boys aged 10 or over and girls 13 and over can be prosecuted for soliciting. So children in this age range cannot decide to have sex, but they are fully culpable if they try to sell it.

Hence the mismatch between public outrage and police indifference. Media coverage cannot fathom how the police were quite prepared to tolerate the prostitution and abuse of underage girls. Because that's how they were framed, as underage. Whereas in addition to the problematic - to put it lightly - attitudes of the police, they tended to view these girls as prostitutes as per the strictures of the law on soliciting. As a rule crimes against adult prostitutes, particularly women out on the streets, aren't taken terribly seriously. As a prostitute is defined as any girl over 13, then the indifference shown to older sex workers was extended to the younger. The grooming, the rapes, the abuse, the pimping by whole gangs, the inculcation of drug habits, all this was viewed through a filter that was officially backed up by the law of the land. Nothing marked these hundreds of young girls out especially - they were just another group of women to be picked up, fined, and thrown back onto the streets.

It's time the law was tightened up. Legal confusion should not be an alibi for awful policing.


WillORNG said...

Harmonise the ages to 16, consent, prostitution, voting?

Anonymous said...

There was also a lack of credible evidence, this is another reason the police rejected many of the claims.

At the moment all we have are witness statements, which are important but the true test will come when the evidence is tested in a court of law. I think the analysis should begin then because all we have now are claims and counter claims. And many of the claims have come about as a result of ambulance chasing lawyers. So we should be careful to leap to conclusions before the judge has had a chance to speak.

Incidentally, boys were also victims of this alleged abuse, around 7% if I am not mistaken, so by claiming this is misogyny you are ignoring 7% of the alleged victims.

Though for some reason the left these days seem to regard men and boys as second class citizens (or maybe third class of we include pets). That is one approach to redress the balance I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised given the make up of victims and perpetrators in Rotherham that the influence of the biraderi was not mentioned. In some areas Labour power relies in part on the vote delivered by the elders of some communities. Often elders rewarded by power within councils. Propensity for subtle pressure on workers and agencies, blind eyes being turned, believing what elders say to the exclusion of what others voices are saying etc.

Although the power of biraderi is being challenged from within the community it is still strong. Labour still using their votes as insurance and time to challenge this

Speedy said...

Somewhat disingenuous. Given the volume and diversity of complaints, it is misleading to suggest the police were "confused" by the law.

This tragedy is simply blow back from the successful implementation of multiculturalism: when confronted with one powerless group exploiting another, they sided with the one backed by the bourgeois elite.

It's a no brainer really, and would be continuing to this day had it not been for the journalists who broke the story. It was known for years of course, but the only ones who touched it were the BNP, which was OK because they were racists, and indeed it made the Left happy to identity the white working class with them.

What happened (and is happening still, no doubt) was evil, but Leftists still defend it one way or another (as per some of the comments above) just as they once defended the crimes of the Soviet Union. It shines an interesting light on how evil actually works, even among people who consider themselves good.

Phil said...

*Sigh* It's not about the police being confused by the law but acknowledging the role the law plays in the institutionalisation of their attitudes toward young girls. If the law criminalises girls 13 and over there is little impetus for the police to start viewing them differently. Poor old nuance, it's so often missed.

Speedy said...

Fair enough, but this also wasn't about "institutional misogyny" it was about "institutional racism" - ie, the fear of the police at being accused of it.

The prostitution point was reasonable, but flip that to thousands of Asian girls being abused by white gangs and do you think the police response would have been so sluggish?

The times have changed, and the police with them - now they (like other branches, eg social workers, the CPS) know they will be hung out to dry by the battalions of lawyers and professional grievance mongers who seek out and exploit special interest groups, often for their own sense of wellbeing or narrow agenda.

In the final analysis they know that if they ignore the pleas of a white working class family with no one to speak up for them, it will be less hassle than facing a full scale campaign if they do their job.

This is the reality they are faced with, and why they failed to act. The law merely helped facilitate this. "Nuance" should not distract from the larger issue.