On Monday, October 29th a gang of seven men were convicted in Sheffield Crown Court of sexually exploiting vulnerable young girls in Rotherham. The case is the first major prosecution under Operation Stovewood, the National Crime Agency’s investigation into historical child sexual exploitation in the town.

The investigation was established following the Jay Report in 2014 which estimated that 1500 girls in the town had been exploited between 1997 and 2013. The NCA is currently working with 296 victims and has identified 151 suspects and further 275 others are also under investigation, in this one operation alone. We now know that historic sexual abuse of young girls by criminal gangs has taken place on an industrial scale in towns across the nation – while police, social workers and local authorities turned the other cheek. Let’s not call these gangs ‘grooming gangs’. They are common or garden gangsters, this is organised crime. How have we let it fester unchecked in our communities for so many decades?

Something in the darker reaches of human nature seems to predispose some people to organise themselves into gangs, to exploit man’s baser nature and weaknesses – addictive substances, sex, the lure of riches or other illegal activities. This is not confined to any one ethnic group or continent; this activity and the violence and ‘code of honour’ which inevitably accompanies it, has taken place throughout history and across the world. When people migrate, often the criminal racketeers in their community go too, for example, the Sicilian migrants to America brought the Mafia with them.

All criminal gangs, whether operating internationally, or confined to one country, or even one city- such as the gangs that have caused ‘Khanage’ with knife crime across London this year, have a similar modus operandi. Whilst each will have some unique crimes, relating perhaps to local laws, local opportunities or cultural ‘norms,’ all gangs have a common thread of criminal activities. Drug dealing, drug trafficking, people trafficking, prostitution, pimping, and intimidation. Intimidation of their victims to control them, threats to harm their loved ones – vile threats to maim, kill or immolate which they don’t hesitate to carry out if thwarted. Every so-called ‘grooming gang’ in our towns and cities fits the bill. They are gangsters.

‘Oh but other gangs don’t prey on vulnerable youngsters, like these mainly Pakistani rape gangs’ you say. Yes, they do! The drug traffickers are setting up the ‘county lines’ – exploiting vulnerable youngsters to traffic drugs out the cities into more rural areas, do just that. So do the Eastern European gangs trafficking young women to the UK with promises of work, then confiscating their passports and forcing them into prostitution. The gangsters preying on vulnerable, mainly white girls are predominantly of Pakistani origin – or their parents were. It is not racist to acknowledge this, in fact, it’s another common thread in organised crime. Raid a Mafia racket, and you will find a preponderance of perpetrators of Italian extraction; a Triad gang – mainly Chinese from Hong Kong or Singapore, Yardies – from Jamaica. The knife-wielding wannabe gangsters in London are mainly black; some of Afro Caribbean heritage, others, one or other of the African nations which have migrated in quite high numbers into our capital in recent years. Readers, don’t forget, the Kray twins and their henchmen were WHITE English!

Do I associate my Sicilian scientific colleagues with Mafia atrocities? Of course not. I worked with two Jamaican fellow laboratory technicians in my youth; I still keep in touch with one of them. Respectable pillars of society, as were their families. Does anyone think for a moment that Malala’s father – who was the inspiration for her quest for all girls to receive an education and who came to England to be with her, when she needed the skills of our surgeons- would commit the disgusting crimes of the Pakistani men convicted this week? This is our nation’s badge of shame; that we have, over decades, ignored the plight of countless young vulnerable women and brutalised more than one generation of men by not acting to break up and prosecute these gangs. We have let down decent Commonwealth citizens who came to Britain to make a better life for their children, not to raise criminals.

What should UKIP do? We must promote our policy on criminal justice and insist on zero tolerance of organised crime across the board. Sarah Champion, who, being a Labour MP, has been ‘disciplined’ by her own party – for standing up for her constituents, has called for research into why men from the Pakistani community become involved in these gangs. She’s right; we should support such investigations and, more importantly, research into what needs to be done to prevent another generation of young men becoming brutal rapists.

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