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FILM ON GROOMING GANGS SUPPRESSED FOR SEVEN YEARS; Racism fears stopped warning to girls.

Byline: SHERON BOYLE

EXCLUSIVE by SHERON BOYLE AN educational film warning schoolgirls about Asian grooming gangs was canned seven years ago by officials scared of being branded racist, it has been claimed.

Called My Dangerous Loverboy, it was specially commissioned in 2007 by child protection chiefs based in Yorkshire - rocked by revelations 1,400 girls were abused by Asian gangs in the town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.

A TV producer who worked on the project claims the film was made following reports of vulnerable girls being passed around groups of men for sex.

The woman - who we are not naming - revealed: "The project was set up to specifically raise schoolkids' awareness of the dangers. The police and social workers were very clear it was Asian men who were seducing white British girls.

VULNERABLE "The police wanted to raise awareness without upsetting community relations but the issues were that the girls were often in care or vulnerable and the local Asian people would turn a blind eye."

She says men would pick up girls at shopping centres. "They'd flatter them, drive them about. When the girl had fallen for them, they'd say, 'Well, if you do love me, you'd have sex with my friend'."

My Dangerous Loverboy is a 20-minute drama about an Asian man in his 20s grooming a younger white girl, lavishing her with gifts and plying her with drink before forcing her to have sex for money.

The brief from 2007 states: "Through a national awareness raising campaign, and targeted education and prevention measures we can assist existing victims to escape and prevent others becoming involved in such a lifestyle."

The film, commissioned by the UK Human Trafficking Centre, now part of the National Crime Agency, won plaudits at international media festivals, yet it was never promoted UK-wide.

The film-maker added: "The police were well-meaning and one female officer particularly wanted to make a real difference but it seems their bosses were uneasy about the race issues." She went on: "I can't help wondering how many girls the film might have saved from being sexually exploited if the UKHTC and police had put their needs before political correctness."

Shaun Wright, head of children's services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010, finally caved in to pressure and quit as Police and Crime Commissioner last week.

Joyce Thacker, at the time director of children's services, quit on Friday.

The National Crime Agency said: "The film was on the UKHTC website, sent to every police force and to child protection agencies."

But it admitted it was only ever shown in a handful of classrooms.

features@sundaymirror.co.uk

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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2014
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