[Content note: Sexual Abuse; experience of sexually abused is outlined]
I write this because Novara Wire, the BuzzFeed of the Left, seems to have fallen for the reprehensible “Betrayed by PC Cowards” argument. Craig McVegas wrote “Police were scared of being labelled racist because they are racist” which is both nonsensical and untrue. There are many considerations to reflect on from Rotherham as I’ll touch on but the Police are scared of being labelled racist is emphatically not one of them.
In the four weeks since the Professor Alexis Jay’s report into Rotherham, it has unfurled complicity and cover-up by those who had the power to intervene and duty to care. The harrowing testimony and detailed evidence of state failure is beyond doubt. The righteous anger of victims, survivors and their families generated a swathe of resignations and calls for more, most recently heeded by the now-former South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.
Amidst this justified anger, politicians across the spectrum have responded by manipulating the facts of this horrendous case to serve their own terrible ends. Tabloids started this old tune with a drum-beat that lamented the “1400 victims of the PC Brigade”, then disgraced former Labour MP for Rotherham Denis MacShane, added his own rhythm when he declared that being “a true Guardian reader, and liberal leftie” perhaps inhibited him from looking too deeply into the issue. On 2nd September, the malicious melody was then perfected by the Home Secretary. In parliament, Theresa May deployed the term “institutionalised political correctness” to partially explain the lack of action by authorities in Rotherham. An invented phrase not found in Professor Jay’s report. Thus in a parliamentary statement, the Macpherson report was turned on its head. The myth poses that endemic police racism has given way to a police force stultified by the fear of encroaching cultural sensitivity. It’s stunning absurdity is only matched by the level of credence given to it.
Equally mythical is the idea that Asian men targeted exclusively white girls as the report documents that untold numbers of Pakistani girls were also victimised outside school gates [report section 11.14]. However the repeated dirge of “The State is too sensitive to Muslims” has been played so consistently that unexpected sections of society have found themselves tapping along to it.
Recently street fascists and mainstream politicians have built this grotesque charade under the guise of “protecting our girls”. Their desire to capitalise on thousands of abused children becomes more putrid when they use it as a weapon to beat back popular anti-racist struggle. White superiority culture is well served when Labour columnists trot out “The poor girls of Rotherham were victims of institutional anti-racism”. While these machinations are somewhat predictable, I’m troubled to find even sections of the radical Left swallowing it. Anyone who falls for the line: “The Police were afraid being labelled racist” has no clue or experience of how the police actually operate.
When reading Professor Jay’s report you will not find any tales of police officers facing obstruction to save these poor white girls from supposedly politically correct bureaucrats. On the contrary, Social Care officers were unequivocal that ethnic considerations did not influence their decision making [11.8]. The report shows South Yorkshire Police deciding to arrest parents who tried to remove their children from the abusers’ houses, along with various incidents of police arresting children for being drunk and disorderly, while taking no action against the perpetrators [5.9]. There was a South Yorkshire Police CID officer who dismissed statutory rape of a 12 year old as “consent” [5.21]. According to a Rotherham whistle-blower who worked for safeguarding agencies in the early 2000s:
“the attitude of the Police at that time seemed to be that they were all ‘undesirables’ and the young women were not worthy of police protection” [8.2]
A disturbing detail has suffocated in the hot air of denouncing phantom PC zealots. Jay’s report cites evidence that suggest some sexual predators possibly had access and support from staff within South Yorkshire Police:
In 2001, a young girl who had been repeatedly raped had tried to escape her perpetrators but was terrified of reprisals. They had allegedly put all the windows in at the parental home and broken both of her brother’s legs ‘to send a message’. At that point, the child agreed to make a complaint to the Police. The researcher took her to the police station office where she would be interviewed in advance in order to familiarise her with the place and the officer who would be conducting the interview. Whilst there, the girl received a text from the main perpetrator. He had with him her 11-year old sister. He said repeatedly to her ‘your choice…’. The girl did not proceed with the complaint. She disengaged from the pilot and project and is quoted by the researcher as saying ‘you can’t protect me’. This incident raised questions about how the perpetrator knew where the young woman was and what she was doing. [10.11]
Neither is this historical, The Guardian reports that the government’s own police watchdog Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had concluded in a recent report that South Yorkshire Police (SYP) officers in its public protection unit took “a great deal deal of time trying to disprove” victims’ allegations. Another HMIC report from 2013 noted that staff within SYP believe that
“the emphasis from senior and middle local managers was still more focused on dealing with offences such as burglary and vehicle crime, rather than child sexual exploitation” (page 5)
There was no actual evidence that the Police was stopped from taking action due to fear of being portrayed as racist, despite this perception being widely held by young people [11.6] failed by local authorities. Rather there is ample evidence of institutional misogyny and classism in South Yorkshire Police. While resignations and personal statements of regret are necessary, they do not address this pernicious culture. Victims are failed further when Government ministers and their shadow counterparts are busy using this shameful episode to scapegoat entire cultural groups. The government’s role has not been to resolve structural discrimination but to recuperate state and police legitimacy. These lies empower bigots, smear the anti-racist struggle and cover up the inadequacies and crimes of state authorities. We should be fighting this not embracing it.
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