Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has blamed “political correctness” over race for the failure of police adequately to tackle child sex grooming gangs.
The former chancellor said that, as prime minister, he would introduce a new requirement for all police forces to record the ethnicity of all those involved in grooming.
And he said he would create a new life tariff for sex gang members, with very little opportunity for parole.
A 2014 report into sustained grooming and abuse of children in Rotherham found that council staff and police were wary of recording the ethnic background of those accused for fear of being branded racist.
Speaking to GB News, Mr Sunak said that – despite a number of subsequent grooming scandals – the problem was still not being taken seriously enough and remained “far more pervasive” than generally recognised.
“I have two young girls who are nine and 11 and I think for too long we just haven’t focused on this issue,” the former chancellor told interviewers Philip Davies and Esther McVey, also Tory MPs.
“It’s a horrific crime. It’s far more pervasive across the country than actually we all realise.
“And we all know the reason that people don’t focus on it. It’s because of political correctness and they’re scared of calling out the facts.
“There’s a particular group of people who are perpetuating these crimes, and I think that’s wrong and I want to change that as prime minister.”
Mr Sunak said he would create a new task force at the National Crime Agency to focus on the issue, and a requirement for all police forces to prioritise it.
“I want to make sure all police forces record the ethnicity of those involved, which currently is not done because people don’t want to do that,” he said.
“And I want to create a brand new life sentence for those involved in grooming with very limited options for parole.
“I’m not going to let political correctness stand in the way of tackling this absolutely horrific crime. I want to call it out for what it is and I want to tackle it properly.
“I have two young girls and I feel this very personally. A Conservative government should be not letting political correctness stand in the way of keeping people safe.”