Since the arrest of Tommy Robinson on May 25, the presence generally — and incorrectly — referred to as ‘Asian grooming gangs’ has been back in the news. This has reignited a debate about whether victims are getting justice and whether perpetrators are encountering it.
In all this at least one key element is missing. What price has been paid, is being paid, or might be paid at some stage, by all those public officials who tacitly or otherwise allowed these modern-day atrocities to go on, doing nothing to stop them? The policemen, politicians, council workers and others who were shown to have failed time and again. They have never been sentenced to prison for any of their oversights — and perhaps criminal charges (not even charges of criminal negligence) could never be brought against them. It is worth asking, however, if any of these people’s lives, career paths, or even pension plans were ever remotely affected by their proven failure to confront one of the greatest evils to have gone on in Britain. That is the mass rape of young girls motivated by adults propelled by (among much else) racism, religiosity, misogyny and class contempt.
Perhaps the post grooming-gang career of just one public official might help to answer that question. Her name is Joanna Simons. In 2013 she was the Chief Executive of the Oxfordshire County Council. She had been at the centre of that Council’s ‘care’ programme for nearly a decade: that is, throughout the period in which the mass rape of local girls (subsequently investigated under the name ‘Operation Bullfinch’) was carried on. The barbarism, which was carried out by local men of what is erroneously described as ‘Asian’ origin, included branding one of the girls with an ‘M’ on her body. The abuser’s name was ‘Mohammed’ and the Mohammed in question wanted people to know that this girl ‘belonged’ to him and as such was his property.
Others among the hundreds of local victims endured equally horrific abuse. A number were in the care of the local authorities. Among the stories that came out in the 2013 court case at the Old Bailey was that one of the girls was drugged and raped by a gang of men. She managed to escape and hail a taxi which drove her to the care home she lived in. Staff at the care home refused to pay the taxi fare, so the taxi driver took the girl straight back to the property from which she had just escaped, where the gang then raped her again. This is not a nightmare set in some far distant land, or even a town in one of the towns in the north of England which the London media rarely get to, but a story set in leafy Oxfordshire. Families of some of the abused girls related that they had tried consistently to raise the alarm over what was happening to their daughters but that every door of the state was closed in their faces.