YP Comment: Society's debt to Ann Cryer over CSE and political correctness

THERE will be many who attribute disturbing levels of child sexual abuse in Bradford, and the surrounding area, to political correctness and the serial failure of the authorities concerned to apprehend the predominantly Asian perpetrators of such misery. Equally, there is a cohort of people who believe the apparent rise has been brought about by victims having the strength to report their attackers.

CSE victims now have the courage to speak out thanks, in part, to former MP Ann Cryer.

Either way, one fact is irrefutable. Without the then Keighley MP Ann Cryer daring to speak out when she started dealing with a particularly harrowing constituency case which would have far-reaching consequences, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of CSE cases around the country which would not have come to light. Vilified at the time for speaking once unspeakable truths, and being prepared to challenge the authorities – and also Muslim community leaders – for downplaying the depravity which has subsequently shocked Britain, the voiceless would not have been offered a voice, and hope, by a now vindicated former politician who was never given sufficient credit for taking such a brave stand.

Welcome progress has been made in the past decade or so. Yet complacency is not an option – only this week it emerged that several opportunities were missed to stop a vile gang of Asian men from sexually abusing a young girl on a systematic basis. And though it does appear that lessons have, for once, been learned, the scars will last a lifetime and the challenge now is ensuring than all victims of sexual abuse have the confidence to come forward. They will now do so safe in the knowledge that they will be treated with far more respect than all those girls, and young women, who were violated, humiliated and expected to suffer in silence because their perpetrators thought they were above the law. They were not and, hopefully, justice will now catch up with their vile crimes.

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Dales dilemma

EVEN Though the Yorkshire Dales welcome visitors from around the world each year, this iconic National Park is so large, and so diverse, that it’s home to areas off the beaten track which are so special, because of their remoteness, that they rank as some of Britain’s best- kept secrets. There are local residents who want to keep it this way because they don’t want their rural idyll spoilt by visitors who, God forbid, might let slip of the secret and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Some perspective is required, not least because the latest Census revealed that the number of Dales residents had fallen for the first time in 40 years. Unless Yorkshire’s rural heartlands move with the times, and permit some new development in keeping with the timeless landscapes, the area will simply not remain sustainable as young people – priced out of the housing market – move away in even greater numbers and the last remaining public services become financially unviable. Evolution, rather than revolution, has to be the way forward, and can still be achieved without compromising the natural environment.

There’s another point that needs to be made. The ‘Not In My Back Yard’ brigade are usually the first to complain when local authorities make spending cuts. However, both of these views are totally contradictory. Without Dales communities marketing themselves as attractive places to live, the suggestion made by leading planner Peter Stockton, there will be no post office, shop, school, library or pub left at all.

Making a splash

AS the end-of-year awards season gathers pace, Team GB’s Rio record-breakers will inevitably find themselves back in the spotlight, and deservedly so. Yet their golden success was a victory for team work – they did not shy away from saying so – and this was reflected when Leeds diving coach Ady Hinchliffe was presented with the coveted Mussabini Medal for outstanding achievement at the prestigious British Coaching Awards.

Named after Sam Mussabini who coached Chariots of Fire sprinter Harold Abrahams, it was the ever modest Hinchliffe who nurtured Yorkshire’s Jack Laugher and synchro partner Chris Mears to glory in Rio as they became the first Britons in history to win Olympic diving gold. Though this was the undoubted highlight of the coach’s illustrious career, all of his protégés have been making a splash – in the literal sense – for the best part of a decade and such recognition is long overdue for one of sport’s ultimate unsung heroes.