The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Northwest (of England), Nazir Afzal, is getting some heat for doing his job.
As the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, I led the teams that brought the so-called Rochdale Grooming Gang to justice in 2012 for abusing up to 47 girls.
My work saw me go up against not only the offenders, but those who tried to intimidate me for bringing abusers before the courts. They said I had given racists a stick with which to beat minorities – I said our communities should be carrying their own sticks.
Right-wingers went after him too.
The network of prosecutors I lead has tackled grooming and child sexual abuse in England and Wales for the past two years. We are advising about hundreds of suspects while, at the same time, protecting hundreds of victims. In one operation alone by Greater Manchester Police there are 20 potential victims and 180 suspects.
The problem we identified in Rochdale was that justice was prevented from being delivered because the credibility of the young victims was questioned.
Why? Sexism and classism. The ideal victim should be male, middle-aged, white, and prosperous.
If we don’t believe a young, vulnerable girl, who will? The authorities and communities appeared to have turned a blind eye to the abuse of its children.
The ethnicity of many of the abusers in Rotherham, Rochdale and other places is a matter of fact – they were from Pakistani or South Asian backgrounds.
I do not care where they come from as long as they are stopped and brought to justice. I told Parliament in 2012 that the ethnicity of the perpetrators was an issue, not the issue. It was not the abusers’ race that defined them, but their attitude to women and girls. They targeted girls because of their vulnerability, and failings by those who should have safeguarded them.
There is no excuse for what the abusers did, nor is there any excuse for the authorities to choose not to believe and protect them.
There should be more like Nazir Afzal.