The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has been rebuked by MPs and human rights campaigners for tweeting about “Asian paedophiles”.
Javid highlighted the case of a grooming gang in Huddersfield that raped and abused girls as young as 11. The group of men were found guilty on Friday of more than 120 offences against 15 girls.
These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. I want to commend the bravery of the victims. For too long, they were ignored. Not on my watch. There will be no no-go areas https://t.co/cZGqDOxt4u— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) October 19, 2018
The tweet was quickly condemned for noting the perpetrators’ ethnicity. The Labour MP David Lammy said: “Sajid Javid has brought a great office of state into disrepute. By singling out ‘Asians’ he not only panders to the far right but increases the risk of violence and abuse against minorities across the country.
“Whatever the underlying motives of the offenders involved, paedophilia is an abhorrent crime that affects all communities. It does no service to the victims of this evil to pin the blame on any one group.”
Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said: “These are horrific crimes. As the judge said, many of these girls will never recover from the abuse they have suffered. Falling support for survivors is inexcusable. Attempts by authorities and now it seems the government to attribute these crimes to one ethnic group does nothing to support these vulnerable women in the way of social services, mental health services or the resources needed by the police to bring all sexual predators to justice.
“The only universal facts are that the scale of sexual abuse in this country is staggering, the needs of these vulnerable women and girls are repeatedly ignored and this government is simply not doing enough to combat it.”
In July, Javid ordered research to be carried out into the characteristics of child sexual abuse gangs. The research will look into how such gangs operate and how that compares to other forms of child sexual abuse.
Zubaida Haque, the deputy director of the Runnymede Trust, said: “I agree with him [Javid] – we absolutely need to applaud the victims and survivors for coming forward. It’s a tremendous act of courage considering the multiple acts of abuse that they’ve had to experience.
“But racialising this crime and focusing on the ethnicity of the sexual predators has done little to address why and how these victims were vulnerable to the prey of these sexual predators.
“It’s extraordinary that Sajid Javid set up an inquiry to look at why Asian men were more likely to be in CSE [child sexual exploitation] grooming gangs when his priority all the time should have been why and how victims were vulnerable and where safeguards had failed.”
Shoaib Khan, a human rights lawyer, said: “This tweet is irresponsible, dangerous and divisive. It is unbelievable that it is a genuine tweet from a serving home secretary, who was previously communities secretary.
“Not only does it show just how tone-deaf the home secretary is to British society, but it is factually incorrect. In particular, the perpetuation of the myth that ‘no-go areas’ exist in this country is particularly irresponsible and misleading.
“Defining these criminals by their ethnicity is also playing right into the hands of the far right. Unless it is now Home Office policy that any time an incident is reported on, the perpetrator’s ethnicity will be mentioned, the home secretary should admit he was wrong, retract this tweet and apologise.”
The Conservative party has been approached for comment.