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July 7, 2012

Headlines concerning big Oxford local crime news

Here are links to some recent reports and discussions of a notable on-going crime story here in Oxford:

July 7, 2012 in Current Affairs, Notable real cases | Permalink

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After doing research on GPS tracking of sex offenders this summer, I find these articles to be particularly interesting (for lack of a better word). Of course, my research dealt more with the sentencing and review aspects, so it is different to see something like this unfolding under an investigation.

My initial reaction to the appearance of these articles was, I will admit, one of shock. Despite researching these types of offenses all summer, I suppose that being in such a beautiful place has really made me think that nothing bad could happen here. Especially since these articles are about Oxford, the very place I'm blogging this at, and not even in a larger city like London. The third article had a quote that said, "The problem with child sexual exploitation is we've become through media coverage used to thinking that it's something that happens to children trafficked in from another country from various different places - somewhere else, some other person's children, that it doesn't happen where we live." I think that this is an adequate summation of both my personal reaction here, as well as many people's reaction to where they live.

However, I do find the headline of the second article to be a little misleading (again, for the lack of a better word). The headline initially makes it seem like a lot of money is being put into a serious problem. Yet, 500,000 pounds over 18 months doesn't add up to much. 27,777 pounds will be spent each month (or about 43,000 dollars). Perhaps I am being a little cynical, but after hearing lectures about how politicians always want to appear "hard on crime" despite the lack of room in prisons, I feel like the headline may make the money sound more substantial than it actually is.

That aside, I think that the combination of all three articles brings up some issues that are relevant to sex crimes worldwide. A point that was mentioned in the first article, and then unpacked more in the third article is that many of the children do not see themselves as "victims". Additionally, the third article mentioned how incriminating photos were used to coerce the children into not telling anyone about what was going on and to just keep doing it. This is certainly a problem that crosses between cultures. It's fairly well-known that many rapes go unreported, especially due to the emotional problems that come along with it. By targeting these girls at such a vulnerable age and indoctrinating them into a sort of culture where this is "normal", the child traffickers have made themselves especially hard to catch since the children themselves will probably not report what is going on and who is doing it to them. Furthermore, the articles stated that the children were already known to child services and indicated that they may be from a rough background. This again may indicate how the traffickers have gone this long without getting caught; these children do not seem like they have parents who are worried where they spend their time, or schools that realize that they might not just be "bad kids" and may be forced into doing bad things.

Finally, when I came upon the name Victoria Climbie, I had no idea who she was (much like I suspect many people here wouldn't know who Jessica Lundsford was). I found out that Victoria was abused and killed by her parents and it was a highly publicized case here. 12 years have passed since her death, and much like how Jessica's Law was created, Victoria's death seems to have sparked some change in how child protection agencies here conduct their business. I found this on the wikipedia page for Victoria Climbie: "Climbié's death was largely responsible for the formation of the Every Child Matters initiative; the introduction of the Children Act 2004; the creation of the ContactPoint project, a government database designed to hold information on all children in England; and the creation of the Office of the Children's Commissioner chaired by the Children's Commissioner for England."

I suppose in summation, I think these articles really show that there are some crimes that are global problems and perhaps (in a perfect world) we could find a solution to the problem that would work globally. I will make a note to follow these articles further to see how the prosecution of the offenders plays out and hopefully find out if their sentencing of sex offenders includes policies like the United States'.

Posted by: Katie | Jul 7, 2012 4:39:55 PM

I just wanted to add something that was mentioned in class a couple of weeks ago. Pr. Berman asked whether Nicola Blackwood, a 33-year-old MP, was atypical of the current Parliament demographics. Currently, the House of Commons has an average age of 50 and 22% are women. In contrast, the House of Representatives has an average age of 58 and the Senate has a median age of 62. Oddly, 17% of both houses are currently women. While UK’s House of Commons may be slightly more accurate in representing the public’s actual gender and age demographics, Blackwood remains an atypical MP.

Hopefully, Blackwood’s presence will motivate more women and younger professionals to run. As discussed in class, age and gender are significant factors to predict crime. Typically, crime is a young man’s game. The fact that we allow legislative bodies of older men direct many aspects of criminal procedure and sentencing seems incongruous. I think bringing in younger representatives might provide a different perspective. It would allow more candid conversations about the factors that lead to crime and what should be deemed punishable.

On another note, Professor Berman also asked for the ethnic demographics of both Congress and Parliament. Ethnic minority MPs make up 4%. In the House of Representatives, 10% are African American, 2% are Asian American, and 6% are Hispanic. There are only four nonwhite Senators: Daniel Akaka, Daniel Inouye, Robert Menendez, and Marco Rubio. (Half of the nonwhite Senators come from Hawaii!)

Posted by: Grady | Jul 30, 2012 1:12:46 PM

Professor Berman posed a question (many a class ago) about the race/ethnicity of the child groomers/sex rings. The question was left unanswered, but I remember hypothesizing that the groomers must be from a minority group, for the Nicola Blackwood article stated, "In the aftermath of the Rochdale case it became apparent that various authorities and agencies failed to intervene for fear of being seen as racist."

After some much-delayed research, I've come to the conclusion that said child groomers are probably of South Asian descent, as the Rochdale case involved British Pakistani men. (The case concerned the grooming and sexual assault of young girls by nine men, the majority of which were Pakistani.)

The article I read about the Rochdale case explained that “[c]overage of the phenomenon of on-street grooming has often characterised the issue as being about gangs of Asian men preying on white girls, and the case has sparked concerns about racial tensions in the north-west and the input of far-right elements.”

Posted by: Iris J. | Jul 31, 2012 12:53:25 PM

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