More than 2,400 children and young people were confirmed to have been victims of sex abuse gangs in just 14 months, a Home Office minister has revealed.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach said the figure – which he described as “dramatic” – hinted at the true scale of organised sex abuse in Britain.
The minister said police forces must “lend a positive ear” to complaints from children in the future, in a bid to avoid a repeat of sexual abuse which has been exposed in a series ofÂ recent criminal trials.
“This has been perhaps the point of failure in the system that these allegations have not been listened to or taken seriously by the authorities in the past,” he told peers.
Police found 2,409 children and young people had been confirmed as victims of sexual exploitation in gangs or groups between August 2010 and October 2011, said Lord Taylor.
Lord Morris of Aberavon, the Labour former attorney general, told the House of Lords that more than 50 alleged child grooming gangs were being investigated.
And the demographic gap is quite devastating. The number of immigrants arriving is only half the story. It’s their birth rate that really counts.
He asked: “Is it collective amnesia that has blinded us to the underlying circumstances, whereby at least 27 police forces are investigating 54 alleged child grooming gangs?
“Why has investigating and prosecuting in so many different parts of the country taken so much time?
“Is it the fear of racialism, or is it the fact that many of these vulnerable girls come from care homes?”
An Old Bailey jury heard earlier this month that six girls were drugged and suffered sadistic abuse while aged between 11 and 15.
The court heard victims were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to perform sex acts. Some had also been beaten, burnt and threatened by an Oxford-based paedophile ring.
Lord Taylor said agencies were now on the alert and “trying to recover a situation which should never have got to this point”.