I live in inner-city Manchester, in one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the UK.
While it has its problems – part of the reason it’s so ethnically diverse is because immigrants find themselves living in areas with cheap, available housing – the cultural diversity more than makes up for them.
So when I see headlines about “Asian grooming gangs” and “Asian Sex Gangs“, and stories which refer to a ‘Pakistani subculture which preys on white girls‘ – I don’t immediately jump to my feet and join the first torch-wielding mob, heading for the nearest Asian. Partly because I know that Asians are a vital and integral part of my community.
But mostly because it’s complete bollocks.
People don’t commit crimes because of their ethnicity. I’ve been a victim of crime several times in my life (as I said, there are some downsides to living in inner-city Manchester…). I’ve been threatened at knife-point by white people and black people. An Asian man once tried to reverse over me and then threatened me and my friends with an iron bar.
I’m white – but in none of those cases did I think that I was being victimised because of the colour of my skin; nor do I for a moment believe that those people were committing those crimes because of the colour of their skin. It wouldn’t just be racist to suggest that, it’s ludicrous!
These crimes happen* because we live in an area with high poverty and low employment, especially for young people. There are several of the other hallmarks you’d expect as well, such a relatively large number of illicit drug users, and a higher-than-average incidence of alcohol abuse. With such an ethnically diverse population victims and criminals are just as likely to be of one ethnicity as another.
Rochdale is not dissimilar – the young people there are vulnerable because of their environment, not because of their skin colour. The girls involved were victimised because they were poor and vulnerable, not because they were white. The men who took advantage were the same sort of monsters who commit these sorts of crimes up and down the country – although of course in less ethnically diverse areas, they and their victims are more likely to be white - and the crime is unlikely to be blamed on ‘white culture’…
Can we please just focus on the crime and try to stop things like this happening again, rather than going off on tangents about race and ethnicity?
*I’m bound by loyalty to my hometown to point out that both petty and serious crime are at all-time lows in my district, and have been decreasing for some time. So there.