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Did the UK government effectively condone the rape of underage girls by grooming gangs?

Nazir Afzal is a former Chief Prosecutor for North West England. He was interviewed very briefly on the . In the interview he made a quite astonishing claim which does not seem to have received the publicity it deserves so we thought it worth publicizing here. He said (minutes):

“You may not know this, but … back in 2008 the Home office sent a circular to all police forces in the country saying “as far as these young girls who are being exploited in towns and cities, we believe they have made an informed choice about their sexual behaviour and therefore it is not for you police officers to get involved in.”

Although we do not have the full text of the circular, this description seems to strongly suggest that it was a blanket instruction which did not contain any reference to the girls’ ages. If so this is direct evidence of the UK government of that time at the very least condoning statutory rape of children and really giving the green light to the police to ignore far worse crimes. In other words, police inaction in these cases was a deliberate policy and the instruction came directly from the then Labour government.

Nazir Afzal further wrote an article in the ibtimes in which he adds more detail:


The term “child prostitute” was used extensively to describe them and it should be noted both that the Home Office in a circular to police in 2008 used that term and spoke of girls making an “informed choice” to engage in this behaviour.

The Home Secretary at that time was Labour’s Jacqui Smith. The next year (2009) saw Smith embroiled in an  (her expenses included claims for a second home and a phone bill with pay to view charges for two pornographic films) and her departure from that ministerial role. Smith later bemoaned the fact that she had had no training for the ministerial role. From the BBC: