By Ninder Kaur
Last week, over 400 people attended the ‘Bradford Against Grooming event, which took place at the Kala Sangam Centre in Bradford.
Community members and parents were openly invited to attend the event where Local Sikhs had come together to form the organisation “Bradford Against Grooming”.
With sexual exploitation of children being rife in Bradford, a number of people from the local
community had come forward to raise concerns about the number of young Sikh girls being victims of sexual grooming/exploitation.
Mr. Singh from Bradford Against Grooming said: “Having initially discussed these cases with a group of volunteers who are helping victims and their families through desperately traumatic times, it became clear to us that the number of families affected by this crime was very high – in fact this small group of volunteers had recorded 22 cases in the last 24 months just in a few areas of Bradford.
“We then contacted local councillors, and we were hoping to show to the authorities that the local community can stand together in the face of this crime and demanded some action to be taken. After months of hard work and great support from Paul Hill from Bradford Safeguarding Children’s Board we managed to organise this event.”
The organisers of the event had only anticipated 50-100 people to turn up but over 400 attended, which was a great turn out.
The awareness campaign began with a production play entitled, “Somebody’s Sister, Somebody’s Daughter” by the GW Theatre Company. The production has been shown at most of the secondary schools in the north and over 20,000 pupils have seen this play in the last two years.
During the course of the evening tips were shared on safeguarding children against being exposed to and manipulated by sinister groups.
Techniques used by groomers, tips for parents on how to keep ahead of the game when it comes to Social media dangers and the Internet were also discussed.
This was shortly followed by a Q&A session with the following panel: Mohan Singh (Sikh Awareness
Society), Jagmeet Singh (Basics of Sikhi ), Dave Jones (GE Theatre Company), Paul Hill (Bradford Safeguarding Children Board Manager), Esther Hobbs (Inspector, West Yorkshire Police) and Cllr Ralph Berry (Bradford Council, Health and Social Care).
Cllr Ralph Berry said: “This was a very impressive community event, working to raise awareness , it was the best attended community event I have been to. This will enable Bradford to build a broader response and increase the support for victims.”
Detective Inspector Esther Hobbs, of the Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: “It was an amazing show of support from the community and I felt very privileged to be part of this event.
“Police in Bradford are committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and we hope that this will encourage victims to report these crimes to our specially trained officers, who will work closely with partners to investigate all reports sensitively and thoroughly with the aim of bringing offenders to justice.”
Paul Hill, Bradford Safeguarding Children Board Manager also added: “I think that the event made good progress towards its first aim of increasing awareness of child sexual exploitation and I also hope that those who attended would now feel more confident about approaching the Council or West Yorkshire Police if they have a concern that a child may be at risk.”
For more information contact BradfordAgainstGrooming@mail.com