Keighley MP Kris Hopkins has criticised the Children’s Comm-issioner report into child sexual exploitation as “an opportunity lost”.

The study, published yesterday, said thousands of children were sexually abused by gangs in England every year.

And it identified “at least 16,500 children at risk of sexual exploitation during one year”.

The report added that whilst the largest ethnic group of child abusers was white, almost a third were of Asian origin.

Mr Hopkins said: “It is no surprise, although no less shocking, that so many children are being targeted by active paedophiles.

“As we already knew and the report confirms, the largest group of child abusers in this country is white. However, the fact that 27 per cent of abusers apparently are of Asian origin, when only six per cent of people who live here are from that section of the community, it is worthy of much deeper examination.

“Sadly, the report has fallen into the trap of dancing a politically correct tune around this reality instead of confronting it head on.

“That is one of the reasons we are not making the level of progress in tackling the problem that we should be.”

He added: “We need stark and open discussions about the horrific blight of child abuse upon our society if we are to give ourselves the best possible chance of eradicating it.

“Sadly, I do not believe the Children’s Commissioner’s report has particularly helped us towards this end.”

Earlier this week, Mr Hopkins came under fire from within his own party for a speech – reported in last week’s Keighley News – that he had made linking some Pakistani Muslims to sexual grooming.

In an address to the Commons, Mr Hopkins had said the British Pakistani Muslim community had to confront the fact a small minority of its men were abusing white children.

He also criticised the custom of seeking brides from Pakistan, suggesting it was motivated by a wish to have “subservient” women in the household.

But this week Zafar Ali, chairman of the Keighley Central branch of Keighley & Ilkley Conservative Association, challenged the comments.

He said: “Islam is a global religion and draws its congregation from around the world.

“To taint Islam by association with paedophile gangs and child abusers is completely wrong, and Kris Hopkins should come forward within the Islamic community and apologise for this misguided generalisation.”

  • See this week’s letters on page 12 for further comment.