Bradford Telegraph and Argus by Claire Armstrong | Wednesday, 8 May 2013 | Click here for original article
A Muslim-led community campaign against sexual grooming by gangs is to be unveiled in Bradford tomorrow.
The Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation is being led by the Islamic Society of Britain and civil rights group Hope Not Hate.
It aims to bring together groups to educate people about child sexual exploitation, produce training kits and factsheets on the issue for faith and community leaders and tackle myths spread by far-right groups. Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, said she had been shocked by the growing problem of on-street grooming by gangs of men.
She said: “I have a 15-year-old daughter and to think that those girls have been manipulated and led to believe that this is normal for their age group, the level of crime that’s been committed against them is just disgusting and beyond belief. People say this is an all-Asian issue against all white girls, when that isn’t the case. We can’t think of it in that way. That gives rise to hatred and division.”
But she said if patterns were emerging among gangs exploiting children, the Muslim community had to show it wasn’t “brushing it under the carpet”.
Paul Meszaros, Yorkshire organiser for Hope Not Hate, said while the alliance was a national initiative, he hoped Bradford could act as a pilot area showing how different organisations could best work together to tackle grooming by gangs.
He said: “We think there’s a lot of good practice in Bradford, from the authorities, from the Council, the police and other statutory agencies, and we think working in a place where there is a solid foundation of good practice is the best place to start.”
The alliance’s first event is at Manningham Mills Community Centre, Bradford, tomorrow.
Airedale and North Bradford Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, is expected to be one of the speakers.
She said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation remains a priority for the force and we are absolutely committed to removing the individuals responsible from our communities.