Keighley area children are still ‘at risk’ of sex grooming

Dozens of children across Keigh-ley and Bradford remain at risk of being groomed for sex.

Figures released to the Keighley News this week by police show officers are now working with 73 children across the district who may be in danger of being targeted for sexual exploitation.

The latest statistic compares with a total of 72 young people at risk a year ago.

The police also said that currently within Bradford district, there are 38 men who have been arrested and bailed pending further inquiries relating to alleged grooming offences.

Detective Chief Inspector Terry Long, head of safeguarding for Bradford district, said: “The scale of the issue is not easy to quantify as many children don’t see themselves as victims of crime, but in relationships with predominantly older men.

“Proactive steps to apprehend those involved in these types of offences are also taken wherever opportunities exist.”

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said: “It’s certainly deeply concerning the number of young people deemed to be vulnerable remains relatively unchanged during this period.

“However, the growing total of suspects who’ve been arrested and potentially face criminal charges stands as a real testament to how seriously the police in Keighley and the wider district are treating the war against paedophiles.

“I keep in regular contact with senior officers on these matters, and I know how committed they are to finding the evil men involved in child grooming and putting them behind bars.”

Bradford Lord Mayor and Keighley councillor Khadim Hussain also expressed concern at the number of children still judged to be at risk.

“It does seem like a fairly high figure,” he said. “A lot of awareness has been raised since last year, and you would anticipate that parents are probably more vigilant.

“So you’d think that would help get some of these young people off the danger list.

“But this is a difficult, complex issue, which isn’t unique to the Bradford area, and it isn’t as conspicuous as other threats.”

The latest sexual grooming figures follow news detectives have investigated more than 200 cases of sex crimes during the past five years where pensioners have been arrested in West Yorkshire.

Statistics show there were 217 cases investigated involving the arrest of people over 65 in the county between 2009 and 2013. These resulted in four people, then aged in their 80s, facing criminal charges, with another cautioned.

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