Swindon MP backs grooming gang crackdown

By Barrie Hudson - 5 April 2023

  • South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

    South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland

South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland has voiced strong support for the crackdown on grooming gangs recently announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

He has also condemned times in the past when, he says, cultural sensitivities were wrongly put first and foremost.

Sir Robert said: "Victims of crime must know that their voice will be heard, that they will be taken seriously, and they won’t be marginalised because of who they are, or where they come from.”

The Prime Minister announced that a new Grooming Gangs Taskforce will see specialist officers brought in to assist police forces across the country with live child sexual exploitation and grooming investigations to bring more criminals to justice.

Led by the police and supported by the National Crime Agency, the taskforce will be made up of officers with extensive experience in undertaking grooming gang investigations. 

They will, according to the Government, provide crucial support to forces across the country to root out grooming gangs and put more perpetrators behind bars.

Data analysts will work alongside the taskforce, using cutting-edge data and intelligence to identify the types of criminals who carry out these offences, helping police forces across the country catch offenders who might otherwise be missed. 

This will also include police-recorded ethnicity data, which the Government says is intended to make sure suspects cannot evade justice because of cultural sensitivities.

Alongside the new taskforce, the Prime Minister has pledged to make sure grooming gang members and their ring leaders receive the toughest possible sentences.

Legislation will be introduced to make being the leader of or involved in a grooming gang a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing. 

This, the Government says, reflects its unwavering commitment to make sure these offenders face the toughest sentences for their crimes and the longest time behind bars.

Sir Robert, a former Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, said: “There have been times in our past where for whatever reason, cultural sensitivities have been put first and foremost, and that’s wrong.

“Abuse is abuse. We need to call it out, wherever it comes from, whoever does it.

“We need to listen to the victims of crime and make sure they are supported. That has always been my approach.

“Follow the evidence, and follow it wherever it leads, without fear or favour.”

Speaking ahead of the taskforce launch, the Prime Minister said: “The safety of women and girls is paramount. For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women. We will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs.”

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