Child protection chief doubts ethnic divide

The sexual exploitation of children cannot be "simplified along ethnic lines where the victims constitute one ethnicity and offenders another", the head of the UK's child protection agency said yesterday.

Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre, launched an investigation into on-street grooming after former Home Secretary Jack Straw accused some Pakistani men in Britain of seeing white girls as "easy meat" for sexual abuse.

The "thematic assessment" will establish "whether it is accurate to identify any patterns of offending, victimisation or vulnerability within these cases", and will report in three to six months, the unit said.

But Mr Davies said: "Child sexual exploitation is not exclusive to any single culture, community, race or religion – it cuts across all communities.

"Neither can it be simplified along ethnic lines where the victims constitute one ethnicity and offenders another."

Blackburn MP Mr Straw said sexual exploitation was a "specific problem" in the Pakistani community.

The former Home Secretary spoke out after the ringleaders of a gang which subjected a string of girls to rapes and sexual assaults were jailed.