WE APPEAR to be living in an age that demands compassion from us.

Those responsible for the continuing wave of atrocities the rest of us struggle to understand would not recognise the word; it is not part of their vocabulary. For the majority, it is a natural reaction to the suffering of the victims of such random and remote acts of violence.

To attack another individual physically, face to face, must be quite difficult, although some people seem to find it quite easy. To do this with a bomb or a van, or a high-powered rifle in order to inflict maximum harm, doesn’t seem to trouble some individuals at all.

For some of our social problems, compassion on its own is not enough. We need to know how and why the perpetrators did what they did; but we also need to know why others, appointed and paid to be in positions of authority, choose to ignore information and continue to refuse to act on it. That system of thinking is contaminated with a pervasive expediency that needs to be thoroughly examined, so that such crimes against humanity may never happen again.

Compassion means you and I, albeit faintly, can imagine what it would be like to be a 13-year-old girl, who nobody ever really cared for, whose experience of life was repeatedly fractured, as if a deeply disrupted home-life was somehow normal. No wonder she reached out for the hand of someone who seemed to like her, who told her she was pretty and fun to be with; someone who simply was kind to her, until there came a time when the kindness had to be repaid.

I grew up in a happy, loving home, and yet at the age of 13 I was bewildered by the world in which I was beginning to find myself. I had people to support me; these girls did not.

I was pleased to read our new MP, Mr Grogan, is so supportive of those who oppose the proposed incinerator at Marley. Forgive the unforgivable metaphor, but he seems to understand which way the political wind blows along our stretch of the Aire Valley.

I assume he is also aware opposition to the opponents of the Marley project was not the only issue Mr Hopkins chose to oppose. Strangely, he consistently agreed with his arch-opponents on the Labour-run council in Bradford on the terrible record of child sexual exploitation in this area. They followed the Westminster line that a thorough inquiry into CSE would reveal no more useful information than had already been uncovered, and that it would be a needless waste of public money.

This is complete and utter tosh. If people in authority had put their hearts and minds into this years ago, it would not have cost as much as it is going to do now. It is not an issue that will go away by being ignored. Also, it has taken so long for any information about CSE to come out at all it makes the Hillsborough Inquiry look rushed.

We need to know how the perpetrators organised such a system and how they were allowed to get away with it; what were the connections between towns such as Keighley and Rochdale, towns linked by proximity to the M62? We need to listen very carefully to those who have spent years gathering factual information about this disgusting practice; Anne Cryer of course (Keighley News, July 6) but also Angela Sinfield and Professor Alexis Jay (Keighley News, June 1).

This is a shameful history that cannot be dealt with separately, town by town. It requires much more than a campaign. You owe it to those girls.

CHRISTOPHER ACKROYD Bethel Street, East Morton