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Grooming gangs should get longer sentences 'if abuse is racist'

From BBC - August 11, 2017

Gangs who sexually abuse young girls should be given longer prison sentences where there is evidence of racism, the solicitor general has said.

Robert Buckland told the Telegraph that racism cut "all ways" and should be "front and centre" when it is part of grooming and sexual abuse cases.

On Wednesday, 17 men and one woman were convicted over abuse in Newcastle.

They were mainly British-born from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Iraqi, Indian Iranian and Turkish communities.

In Newcastle, victims as young as 14 were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex by a "cynical organisation".

Over the course of four trials, 20 young women gave evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014.

'Racial hostility'

However, some politicians have questioned why their offences were not seen as being racially aggravated in the courts.

Mr Buckland said tougher prison sentences should be given when it was established that sexual abuse was racially aggravated.

"The law does not discriminate," he said.

"When it talks about sentencing increases for racial aggravation it does not cut one way, it cuts all ways.

"Where there is a racial element in sexual abuse cases the law is clear that courts can apply a sentencing uplift."

'Work together'

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