Grooming Gangs: Quilliam & the Myth of the 84 Percent

By J.Spooner & J.Stubbs

Background - The construction of a racial crime threat

Group-Based Child Sexual Exploitation: Dissecting “Grooming Gangs” is the recently released research report by UK counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation. Produced by their CEO, Haras Rafiq and researcher, Muna Adil, this report revolves around research conducted by them in relation to what they define as ‘Grooming Gangs’ (an apparent subset of Child Sexual Exploitation, or ‘CSE’) and the ethnicity of the offenders in “this specific crime profile”. ‘Grooming gang’ is a relatively recent term for what is stated by Adil and Rafiq to be linked to a unique, CSE-based crime profile. Unfortunately, however, there is a distinct lack of any specific background information regarding the origins of this term in Quilliam’s report.

We wanted to know when this particular crime profile entered the public awareness, and how. In our search we found a study from researcher, Dr Ella Cockbain. In 2013, Cockbain wrote an analysis on the origins and nature of grooming gangs, titled: Grooming and the ‘Asian sex gang predator’: the construction of a racial crime threat.

In this analysis for the Institute of Race Relations, Cockbain traces the origins of this specific crime profile and its associated terminology back to a 2011 investigation by none other than UK newspaper The Times:

“In January 2011, The Times, a leading British conservative broadsheet newspaper, ran a front-page exposé entitled ‘Revealed: conspiracy of silence on UK sex gangs’. It claimed to have uncovered a new racial crime threat, dubbed ‘on-street Grooming”.

Cockbain goes on to observe that the subsequent media frenzy stirred up in 2011 by The Times’ investigation, acted as a catalyst for public outrage and the inevitable government response:

“The Times’ coverage catapulted grooming into the national consciousness. In the week immediately following the exposé, grooming dominated the national news agendum: it was the subject of the BBC News website’s most-read article and of intense debate on numerous high-profile radio and TV shows, including BBC’s Newsnight.”

This was confirmed by The Times themselves, who asserted in 2011:

“Britain’s child protection squad is to investigate “patterns of offending” that may link cases of on-street grooming in which vulnerable young girls are used for sex by groups of older men…The “thematic assessment” was ordered after an investigation by The Times last week revealed that racial sensitivities were preventing official recognition of a developing model of child sexual exploitation on the streets of northern England and the Midlands”

Cockbain went on to analyse the figures from The Times’ investigation. She found the ensuing “moral panic” caused by the media hysteria was in clear “disproportionality of the original threat”, concluding that:

“despite the severity of the offences, seventeen cases hardly constitute the alleged ‘tidal wave of offending’.”

Damningly, she also asserted that the criteria used to define the first publicly recognised crime profile of ‘grooming gangs’ could be deliberately biased:

“In fact, The Times’ figures derived from a search of press coverage from 1997 to 2011 aimed at identifying convictions involving two or more men for sexually abusing girls aged 11–16 years they had met locally, hence the ‘on-street’ in grooming. These inclusion parameters have never been explained or justified, despite the questionable decision to exclude male victims wholesale. This raises the question as to whether the statistical exercise was deliberately designed to isolate evidence for a predetermined ‘Asian model’”.

The “parameters” set out in the Times’ “Asian Model” of investigation immediately caught our attention, sounding awfully similar to the ones used in Rafiq and Adil’s own research. In the Case Studies section of the Quilliam report, they state:

“ we are focusing on the specific crime of group-based localised street grooming of young girls for sexual activity”.

Moving on from Cockbain’s condemnation of the 2011 investigation, six years later and another investigation is at the heart of a Times exclusive. History is repeating itself, but now Nawaz’s Quilliam are the vehicle for it. It is through this lens that we viewed the need for a thorough examination of the latest Grooming Gang report by Quilliam. Below, our own dissection of Rafiq and Adil’s study will dovetail in many areas with Cockbain’s - not least in her overall verdict:

“The Times’ creation of grooming as a new racial crime threat is a classic example, it seems, of a bold claim resting on shaky foundations: anecdote, opinion and spurious statistics.“


“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics

- Mark Twain, 1906

In August 2017, Labour MP Sarah Champion fashioned an opinion piece for tabloid paper The Sun, titled “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls … and it’s time we faced up to it”. Champion’s comments, combined with her subsequent resignation, polarised public opinion, rehashing the ‘grooming gang’ debate and igniting the media into an all too familiar frenzy. Amongst her most fervent defenders were those from the Quilliam Foundation. Chairman, Maajid Nawaz, dedicated an on-air segment to defending her comments on his radio show:

Similarly, Quilliam employee Muna Adil voiced her opinion in The Telegraph with a staunch defence of Champion titled “Of course race matters in the Rotherham sex abuse scandal. Until we admit that, we can’t tackle the problem”. In this piece, Adil hinted at the forthcoming Quilliam report:

“An upcoming Quilliam report will look to shed more light on the issue, but here a glimpse of what we have found so far: Asians or British Asians make up 6.9 per cent of the UK population, yet they’re found responsible for almost half, 46 per cent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) crimes.”

Here, Adil audaciously claimed that “so far”, her research had found that Asians were responsible for nearly half of all CSE. Strangely, nothing even remotely similar to this claim was made in the final report, nor was it explained how she came to this conclusion so early on in their research.

Fast-forward four months, Quilliam’s report is set for release and their findings are broken by The Sunday Times in a December 10th article incorrectly titled “Asians make up 80% of child groomers - study”. In the following week, the topic of ‘grooming gangs’ again dominates the national news agendum and social media platforms. A large number of headlines used the major figure derived by Quilliam’s own findings, highlighting the now popular ’84 %’ statistic:

On social media especially, this popular statistic from Quilliam’s report has inevitably been used as a rhetorical club, being bashed over the head of anybody who dares question this narrative or voice an opposing opinion. Yet how many people have actually read the report remains a mystery. Not least because it isn’t freely available for fellow researchers or members of the public to obtain and subject to the kind of scrutiny such reports normally undergo.

We will demonstrate that this report is flawed from beginning to end. Laced with contradictions, misrepresentations and blatant fabrications, the report also appears hastily thrown together, with paragraphs copied and pasted into multiple sections. Their statistics are pulled from incomplete research, and use a specific definition of ‘grooming gangs’ that is again different from the figures they cite from other studies. The report has been highly selective of not only the references it opts to use, but the specific sections of those sources it decides to include or omit.

For simplicity, we have compiled our notes and analysis on Rafiq and Adil’s study, exactly as they were set out in their report - our analysis of each section comes under the Quilliam report’s corresponding subheading.


The Quilliam report begins with a short foreword, highlighting the public debate over grooming gangs, before Rafiq and Adil then attempt to frame their research as a “serious”, “academic report” with an “objective approach” that provides “academic and nuanced context”. This report is many things, but “Academic” it is not. Indulging in vacuous terminology such as “Politically Correct Brigade” or “Regressive Left”, using only a select handful of serious references and filling their ‘Case Studies’ section using broadsheet and tabloid sources, are just a few things the authors do that would make any serious scholar question the overall purpose of this piece.

Adil and Rafiq state that they “believe that a report of this nature has been long overdue”. However, we will highlight a significant amount of important research that has been completely ignored by this report. The Foreword then goes on to explain the authors’ backgrounds and links to the British Pakistani community. They claim this provides them with “a strong voice from within” their community, and allows them “to provide an informed opinion on the potential cultural underpinnings of the data found in this report”.

Supposedly channeling their collective Asian ‘voice from within’, the authors declare:

“we initially began this project predicting that we would find a misrepresentation of the facts in the media, and that CSE crimes by Asian ethnicity individuals were simply being blown out of proportion.”

Thus, in this Foreword, Rafiq and Adil attempt to set the scene by declaring themselves a voice from the British-Pakistani community whose natural instincts were to deny the role of ethnicity in ‘grooming gangs’. We believe this collective appeal to identity politics can be seen as an attempt to manufacture a false legitimacy in lieu of genuine statistical analysis.


As could be expected, a rather brief introduction offers very little. It starts with Rafiq and Adil explaining the purpose of the report is to “explore and analyse” the grooming gang “epidemic”. The 300-word introduction then goes on to quote two definitions of grooming, one from a government report and one from the Crown Prosecution Service. Shortly after this, the Introduction concludes by stating:

“The report will therefore provide a comprehensive data analysis of all group child-sex offences committed in the United Kingdom over a period of 12 years in order to definitively demonstrate whether one ethnic, racial, or religious group is disproportionately represented in such convictions…”

Embarrassingly, this is then contradicted by the authors on the very next page of the report, where they state:

“…this report should not be seen as a comprehensive collection of all grooming gang cases in the UK”.


Next, the Methodology section of Rafiq and Adil’s report opens with the following sentence:

“The data in this report has been collated using extensive data mining methods. Every attempt has been made to ensure the integrity of the information delivered in this report”

Unfortunately however, these “extensive data mining methods” are somewhat elusive, whilst exactly what is meant by “every attempt” also remains unclear. Rafiq and Adil then goes on to explain how, for the purposes of their research, they have defined ‘Grooming Gangs’:

“We have therefore defined a “grooming gang” as a group of two or more individuals who employed typical grooming techniques to entice a child to engage in sexual activity”

The authors continue, touching on the way they obtained their data, without providing any specifics:

“…we have only used cases in which the offenders have been clearly identified and convicted.”

Apart from one sentence later on defining ‘Asian’ for the purpose of the report, the remainder of this section offers a disclaimer which Rafiq and Adil include “in order to maintain transparency”:

“Due to the significant lack of public information available regarding court cases involving child sexual offences, the collated data within this report should not be seen as a comprehensive collection of all grooming gang cases in the UK. Further, many of the cases found were incomplete and had significant intelligence gaps…”

So, to summarise, in this section the authors attempt to clarify their methodology by:

  • Defining the terms they have used which dictated what data to collate
  • Reporting that the data they have used has come from cases where the offender has been clearly identified and convicted
  • Observing that their data set is not a comprehensive database of these convictions

In other words, all we know about the research method from the Methodology section is: Quilliam have analysed some, but not all, of what they have defined as ‘Asian grooming gang’ convictions in the UK.

The authors fail to clarify:

  • How they actually came to discover the convictions (eg. Newspaper reports? Police records?)
  • How many cases did they decide not to include and for what reasons? ( for instance, was it a large percentage? How did they decide on what was clearly identified?)
  • How did they verify the ethnicity of the offenders once they identified that they fitted the definition? (Was it just by name? Appearance?)

Unfortunately, whilst claiming to “maintain transparency”, this report has provided zero insight into the exact nature of the “extensive data mining methods” used by its authors. Compounding this, in the results section of the report - ‘Findings’ - Rafiq and Adil fail to list or name the exact cases/convictions they found. These factors combined make it impossible to understand how they got their results, ensuring that the study cannot be independently verified or replicated. Without this clarity, the research cannot be subject to peer review, and therefore violates a fundamental canon of academic reporting. These reasons alone render the report impotent and thus unable to fulfill its stated aim of being “seen as a stepping stone which acts as a catalyst for real-world solutions”.


“Oh people can come up with statistics to prove anything Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.” - Homer Simpson, 1994.

Initially, the authors provide statistics from three separate research studies: Firstly, they relay statistics from the 2013 Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) report. Secondly, they provide us with the figures from their own research. Finally, they refer to another CEOP study from 2011, before then jumping back and forth between the three reports.

From the very start of this section, in an error which beggars belief, the report begins by incorrectly relaying the 2013 CEOP study’s findings. Explaining these findings, Rafiq & Adil observe:

“In a 2013 study, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) found that group CSE offenders could be divided into two main types…Type 1 group CSE offenders were those that targeted their victims based on their vulnerability…Type 2 group CSE offenders target children as a result of a specific sexual interest in children.”

Yet this interpretation of the CEOP findings is false. In this area of their study, CEOP does not refer to “CSE” offenders. In fact, the CEOP report is quite careful to illustrate that they have narrowed down their research to a more specific type of CSE, self-defined by them as “CSA” or Contact Sexual Abuse:

“In the interests of precision, the term contact sexual abuse (CSA) is used in preference to ‘child sexual exploitation’ (CSE) which, whilst in common use, can be given a much wider meaning encompassing certain forms of non-contact sexual offending. For the purposes of this assessment, CSA involves lone and group offenders and sexual offending associated with street gang culture”

Here the report also makes a feeble attempt to distinguish white CSE groups with Asian heritage groups. Rafiq and Adil misinterpret CEOP’s ‘Type 1’ and ‘Type 2’ groups definitions and attempt to list characteristics that make them distinct. Quilliam on the CEOP report’s Type 1 groups:

  • “These are the offenders that are likely to indoctrinate, coerce, and groom their victim into the abuse, rather than perpetrate a direct attack”
  • “Often linked to each other via some association, whether that be a loose acquaintance or a more formal network of a criminal or business nature”
  • “The abuse is carried out by more than one perpetrator and can involve multiple victims”

Yet, these noted characteristics of Type 1 groups can also equally apply to Type 2 groups. The misinterpretation persists in the next paragraph, where it appears that Rafiq and Adil have anointed themselves with the ability to interpret CEOP’S own terminology as they see fit:

“Type 2 offenders cannot be defined as ‘grooming gangs’ because there are no grooming tactics involved.”

Having combed the CEOP study, we can confirm that nowhere is this claim made. Moreover, the CEOP report does not give any details of each individual case, making this claim impossible to verify. Rafiq and Adil then go on to give the CEOP report’s figures, followed by their summary of its findings, still mistakenly using the term ‘CSE’ instead of ‘CSA’.

Worryingly, Quilliam’s use of the CEOP data has been cherry-picked and is also being used in ways that were expressly and repeatedly warned against by its original compilers. Where both the 2011 and 2013 CEOP statistics make up the majority of Rafiq and Adil’s ‘Data’ section of their findings, there are important contextual caveats from those same investigations which have been completely omitted by the Quilliam authors in their report:

From the CEOP 2011 study:

“This assessment cannot be seen as fully representative of the nature and scale of child sexual exploitation in the U.K., or, indeed, of the ‘localised grooming’ model. Data relating to child sexual exploitation is often partial and incomplete, concealed in secondary indicator data, or simply unrecorded…”

“We do not draw national conclusions about ethnicity from the data available at this time because it is too inconsistent.”

“In relation to ethnicity, the data was often recorded to a particularly poor standard at the point of capture.”

From the CEOP 2013 report:

“Ethnicity descriptors remain imprecise and as not all police forces responded to CEOP’s information request, the data is incomplete…”

“… due to the small sample sizes, more research needs to be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn…”

“Until the current confusion around terminology is resolved by clear taxonomy, it is unwise to place too much emphasis on arbitrary categorisation.”

By using the CEOP report’s figures whilst simultaneously omitting its cautionary emphasis, Quilliam perniciously misrepresent the overall findings of the CEOP report.

Additionally, we found the analysis of CEOP’s figures by Rafiq and Adil and their supporting referencing to be clumsy to the point of misleading. For example, we find successive paragraphs, which according to the references, refer to two totally separate studies by CEOP, yet appear to be presented by the authors as one set of results. Even more deviously, at the very bottom of this specific passage, Rafiq and Adil state that:

“The most common single ethnicity group was Asian, i.e. Asians were most likely to commit CSE offences in groups.”

Shockingly, this claim appears completely fabricated. There is nowhere in either CEOP report where this observation is made. This would explain why Rafiq and Adil have to reference a third party source for this particular claim, rather than the CEOP report itself. Nor does it seem that Rafiq and Adil took the time to check this. Instead the entire paragraph appears copied/pasted into the Quilliam report, with a couple of minor alterations and a footnote included.

Moving on to Quilliam’s own findings then, the authors declare:

“In our own research, we found a total of 58 cases of ‘grooming gangs’ from 2005 to 2017…We identified 264 convictions for group-based CSE involving grooming tactics from 2005 to 2017. Due to the inaccessibility of official police records, this data cannot be treated as comprehensive, but it can go a long way in helping us identify emerging patterns in group-based CSE. Out of the 264 grooming gang convictions, we identified 222 offenders as Asian (84%), 22 Black offenders (8%), 18 white offenders (7%), and 2 offenders with unknown ethnicity (1%).”

Despite the severity of the offences, 58 cases over a twelve year period hardly justifies Rafiq and Adil labeling this an “epidemic”. Furthermore, the “inaccessibility of official police records” again begs the question of how these convictions were found and identified by the researchers.

Still, we thought we would compare the above Quilliam findings against what we could find, given a few hours of sifting through online newspaper reports. We used the definition of ‘grooming gangs’ outlined by Quilliam in their Methodology section. We subsequently found well over 100 more white British perpetrators than Rafiq and Adil’s report, which we believe fall into the “grooming gang” category. For the sake of transparency, and for those wishing to check our claim, we have included links to all the cases which we found:

Coventry, November 2017- 3 white offenders.

Newcastle, August 2017 - 1 white offender.

Rotherham, September 2016 - 2 white offenders.

Derby, November 2010 -1 white offender.

Northampton, March 2016 - 2 white offenders.

Rochdale, April 2016 -1 white offender.

Wrexham, July 2015 - 5 white offenders.

Cornwall, November 2010 - 6 white offenders.

Bristol, April 2015 -7 white offenders.

Coventry, February 2017 -2 white offenders.

Ibstock, July 2016 -2 white offenders.

Cardiff, August 2017 -3 white offenders.

Norwich, July 2015 - 4 white offenders.

Bristol, September 2016 - 3 white offenders.

Birmingham, July 2016 - 7 white offenders.

Surrey, April 2017 - 2 white offenders.

Plymouth, October 2017 - 2 white offenders.

Blackpool, March 2010 - 2 white offenders.

Worcester, June 2017 - 3 white offenders.

Sydenham, September 2014 - 5 white offenders.

Shrewsbury, February 2014 - 3 white offenders.

Manchester, July 2013 -1 white offender.

Birmingham, June 2013 - 2 white offenders.

Beckenham, February 2013 - 3 white offenders.

Reading, February 2013 + 2012 - 6 white offenders.

Sandbach, August 2005 - 3 white offenders.

Liverpool, May 2005 - 1 white offender.

Accrington, September 2011 - 1 white offender.

Cardiff, June 2011 - 1 white offender.

Carmarthenshire, March 2011 - 5 white offenders.

Kent/Newcastle, May 2008 - 4 white offenders.

Taunton, May 2017 - 2 white offenders.

Cardiff, June 2017 - 2 white offenders.

Bolton, April 2010 - 4 white offenders.

Hampshire, September 2007 - 3 white offenders.

Sussex, May 2006 - 4 white offenders.

Abergele, April 2006 - 6 white offenders.

Bournemouth, May 2010 - 3 white offenders.

Portsmouth, December 2011 - 2 white offenders.

Chesham, October 2014 - 1 white offender.

Torquay, June 2011 - 1 white offender.

Blackburn, November 2008 - 2 white offenders.

Warwick, June 2017 - 2 white offenders.

Cornwall, October 2010 - 1 white offender.

As listed above, in less than half a day we found 126 white British offenders who were convicted of what would be defined by Quilliam as ‘grooming gang’- related offences. This obviously contrasts with the 18 found by Rafiq and Adil. Like the authors, we by no means claim our figures to be ‘comprehensive’, but in the very least they demonstrate how the lack of transparency in Quilliam’s methodology can give rise to two totally different sets of results.

To summarise, in their Findings, Rafq and Adil:

  • Misrepresent the CEOP study’s terminology and incorrectly give the impression that CEOP’s findings refer to all CSE offending, rather than a separate, specific subset of CSE (CSA). To reiterate, the CEOP study specifically distinguishes its findings from those relating to CSE offenders. Quilliam however, simply equate the two.
  • Make inferences about CEOP’S definitions which CEOP itself does not even attempt to make.
  • Falsely characterise CEOP’s own terminology.
  • Omit all the stated limitations of the CEOP reports.
  • Make an unevidenced claim about Asians being more likely to commit CSE in groups.
  • Found over a hundred white offenders less than us, using the same grooming gang definition.


It is in this section that the author’s hypothesis is explained in scarcely intelligible terms and where their deception becomes more apparent. Two major claims stand out within Rafiq and Adil’s Analysis section:

Quilliam’s Claim (i): “The report recognises there to be a disproportionate representation of males with ‘Asian’ heritage who have been convicted in such cases, with the Asian male perpetrator/white female victim dynamic serving as the prominent feature of these grooming gangs. Most of these men are of Pakistani (Muslim) origin , and the majority of their victims are young, white girls. The report suggests that the background of these men has influenced their actions.”

  • The authors provide no evidence that most offenders are Pakistani origin.
  • The authors provide no evidence that most offenders are Muslim.
  • The authors provide no evidence that the majority of victims are white.
  • The authors provide false and/or misleading evidence that the background of the offenders influenced their crimes.

Quilliam’s Claim (ii):The racial difference is highlighted through repeated reference to the ‘whiteness’ of the victims.”

  • This appears to be an outright falsehood. There are no “repeated references” provided in the report. There is a single reference, relating to a single offender, Sageer Hussain.

In a desperate attempt to buttress their claims, the authors have bizarrely included an African group of offenders and cite the Newcastle case, where the judge in the case was explicit:

“In my view, and speaking in broad terms, these defendants selected their victims not because of their race but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable”.

More craven still is the total mischaracterisation of a train ticket inspector in 2014 as a sex crime ‘victim’. This is a complete fabrication. Unsurprisingly, Quilliam’s cited source, makes no mention of the affair at all. The actual source is found here and reveals not only Quilliam’s shameless deception, but also that the man involved was not committed of a sex-related crime.

This pattern of misrepresenting the evidence is prevalent throughout. The report claims:

“another defendant attempted to blame his actions on the short skirts that Western women are permitted to wear”

This is another blatant manipulation. This relates to an interview conducted by Channel 4 with the aforementioned Sageer Hussain in 2014. Hussein was not a ‘defendant’ at this point. His brother was however, a suspect. Hussein’s claims are both horrendous and false. Critically however, he was not victim blaming - his position was that there were no crimes and therefore, no victims.

This is the sum total of the ‘evidence’ provided by the authors to demonstrate that Pakistani Muslims are targeting ‘our’ White British children for rape and exploitation. Yet, they offer no specifics on this supposed ‘majority’ nor provide any evidence for their assertions. It beggars belief that this selection bias, manipulated and misinterpreted evidence does highlight anything other than a conscious effort to portray Asian Muslims as dangerous rapists preying on White British children.

Furthermore, this narrative of Pakistani-background groomers specifically targeting white girls has been biased by the local demographics in high-profile cases, according to the Deputy Children’s Commissioner and Rotherham victim and campaigner Emma Jackson while giving evidence to the Home Office. The Home Office’s warnings are explicit: focusing on a “single model of child sexual exploitation” will lead to authorities being “blinkered” and “blind”.

The selection bias is in full effect as the report’s Analysis continues. The authors conjure up the former Chief Prosecutor Nafir Afzal without acknowledging that Afzal has both rejected their “Politically Correct Brigade” charges along with their lurid smearing of British Muslims.

The later parts of the Analysis touch on Migration, Integration, Cultural Norms and Cultural Sensitivity. In these sections the authors echo their chairman’s sentiments towards the “Regressive Left” who, they say, are “denying a problem exists” and accuse them of shielding Muslims from any sort of criticism in the name of ‘Political Correctness’. This theory has long been a major talking point within Quilliam’s anti-extremism discourse and a major theme of their public work, making it all the more nonsensical that readers are asked to believe that they did not ‘expect’ these results from the outset.

Rafiq and Adil audaciously single out political correctness for the community and policing failures which have often plagued victims of CSE. Here Rafiq and Adil refer to what Cockbain described as “The Conspiracy of Silence”, which she states is a “particularly pernicious element to constructing grooming as a racial crime threat”. Cockbain concludes that although some cases may contain elements of this:

“Nonetheless, there are numerous other factors that may have played as much, if not more, of a role in deterring effective responses to CSE.”

A major purpose of the second half of Quilliam’s analysis it seems, is to muddy the waters even further by anecdotally making the links that their statistics couldn’t. Rafiq and Adil’s terminology now changes, taking the specious leap from ‘Asians’ to ‘Muslims’ and attempting to link the Asian ‘Culture’ (Islam) to the grooming gang “Crisis”. Putting to one side that Quilliam’s supposed statistical data on grooming gangs is worthless as long as it remains concealed, they at absolute best show a weak correlation. At no point do they demonstrate causation. Attributing the cause of rapes and sexual exploitation involving hundreds of actors to two factors - culture and religion, is inept and reductionist, but will be accepted by the already prejudiced at face value.

Case studies

“Google is not a synonym for research’.”
- Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, 2009.

Earlier in the report, Rafiq and Adil declare:

“Ten case studies from 2010 - 2017 are also analysed in depth to help determine any similarities and identify any patterns that exist across the cases.”

Despite their claims to contrary, the ten case studies are not “analysed in depth”. In fact, they are not analysed at all. In a clear demonstration of bias and/or incompetence, the authors simply cherry-pick segments of news articles and include them verbatim as their own “analysis”. Moreover, this particular section of Quiliam’s “academic report” cites exclusively news reports, with the use of Britain’s gutter tabloids the Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail being particular low points.

The empty claims and lack of evidence surrounding the Case Studies typifies the entire report. In each ‘Case’(or cited news article), all evidence which contradicted the report’s theme of ‘Asian-Muslims are preying on white girls because Asian/Muslim are racist’ was simply ignored. The below examples are illustrative of this selection bias:

Derby, 2010

Yvonne Coen QC, for the prosecution, said: “They preyed on young girls who were vulnerable, either because of their age and because of their own personal circumstances.”

Police said they were from a variety of backgrounds and urged all parents to be aware of the risks of sexual exploitation:

“The reason for the main defendants’ relentless pursuit of the girls in this way was quite simple. They wanted sex, whether the girls wanted sex or not.”

Rochdale, 2011

Passing sentence Judge William Morris said: “This was spontaneous behaviour on the part of you all deciding as and when this opportunity arose.”

Rochdale, 2012

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, said the criminal justice system should not “dance to the tune of the BNP”: “ I do not believe it’s a race issue. Why do I believe this? The assistant chief constable [of Greater Manchester police] has said so, and so has the deputy children’s commissioner. We need to have a proper far-reaching investigation into these crimes.”

Telford, 2013

“The girls who became the victims were targeted because of their vulnerability and were then systematically groomed in such a way that eventually they were able to be used for sexual gratification.”

“It has been extremely difficult for the victims, who were all vulnerable young women.”

“We have been clear from the start that this is purely about criminal behaviour by a few individuals.”

Bristol, 2014

It is about the defendants simply using the girls to satisfy themselves whenever they felt like it, doing it so often that no doubt it began to feel normal as far as these girls were concerned.”

Newcastle, 2017

Sentencing the first of 14 gang members on Tuesday, the judge, Penny Moreland, said there was no direct evidence that the offending was racially motivated. She added: “In my view, and speaking in broad terms, these defendants selected their victims not because of their race but because they were young, impressionable, naive and vulnerable.”


Quilliam’s report concludes by laying out a six point plan to combat what they describe as “a child sex abuse scandal the likes of which Britain has never seen before”. Yet, as highlighted earlier, this study does nothing but further obfuscate an already convoluted area of research that relies on crystal clear methodology and precision in its findings. Arguably the most revealing way that Quilliam have muddied these waters is by the omission of entire studies whose conclusions don’t echo their own, as well as the limitational caveats of those that do. For instance, Rafiq and Adil’s major source for their Findings section, the CEOP 2013 report, observes that:

“The most comprehensive prevalence study to date of group offending and gang associated offending was undertaken in 2012 by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC)”

Yet incredibly, this 2012 OCC report has not been mentioned by the Quilliam authors at all. This omission of the most comprehensive research on the topic undermines any claim the authors have to an “academic and nuanced context”. Needless to say, the ignored 2012 OCC report highlights further important findings within this area of research.

The 2012 OCC’s call to evidence received information on 1514 offenders and from this, “individuals classified as`White’ form the largest group of perpetrators in both gangs and groups” — 545 were recorded as ‘White’, 415 were recorded as ‘Asian’, and 244 were recorded as ‘Black’ (with 21% ethnicity not provided). Asians are likely to make up a disproportionately low number of this 21% as the OCC concludes “it is evident that data are more proactively gathered on men and boys of Pakistani and Kurdish origin.”.

The OCC found that this is compounded by a subconscious racial bias on the part of Police and other agencies where perpetrators were erroneously recorded as ‘Asian’:

“The Inquiry was informed in several site visits of groups of perpetrators who were described generically as ‘Asian’ but who, upon further investigation, turned out to include Afghan, Kurdish and White British perpetrators.”

The OCC identified several motivating factors of grooming gang members including money, power, control and sexual gratification. They did not identify race, culture or religion. They attribute the offender-victim disproportionately in part to flawed recording methods. Having analysed the evidence, they’ve concluded that there is “more than one type of perpetrator, model and approach to child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups”.

But it’s not only the 2012 OCC findings that are absent. Below we have listed further studies which were ignored by Rafiq and Adil:

  • ‘It’s not on the radar’ The hidden diversity of children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation in England — Barnardo’s 2016 report.
  • Grooming and the ‘Asian sex gang predator’: the construction of a racial crime threat — Institute of Race Relations — 2013.
  • “If only someone had listened” Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups Final Report November 2013.
  • Rotherham, rochdale, and the racialised threat of the ‘Muslim Grooming Gang’. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy -2015.
  • Child Grooming and Sexual Exploitation: Are South Asian Men the UK Media’s New Folk Devils? International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy - 2015.
  • Muslim and Dangerous: ‘Grooming’ and the Politics of Racialisation, Waqas Tufail, 2016.

The above list is by no means extensive, but referring to either the 2012 OCC report or any one of these studies would have provided some much needed context into Quilliam’s conclusions. For example, the 2016 Barnardo’s report finds that:

“According to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England (OCCE), 13 models of exploitation were identified during an inquiry into sexual exploitation in gangs and groups… it does illustrate that the model of sexual exploitation most often seen by the public is only one of many…”

Further points overlooked from Quilliam’s “comprehensive” report include:

  • CEOP figures show that in Britain, 96% of the child victims of indecent images of children (IIOC) are white. In all of these images showing sexual contact between an adult and a child, all of the offenders were white. Do Quilliam therefore conclude that white men are racially ‘targeting’ white children? Is the white and Christian British background of the offenders motivating their crimes? If not, why not?
  • All three of the CEOP, the OCC and the Home Office are in agreement that groomers of children target their victims according to their vulnerability and not their race.
  • The CEOP theorises that greater levels of freedom afforded to white children may make them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
  • All three studies(1,2,3) describe the under-reporting of ethnic minority victims a) by the victims themselves owing to their unique cultural considerations and b) in how the Police document the crimes due to a racial bias. They “were more likely to identify children who were White British” (OCC).

Rafiq and Adil’s theory that Asian-Muslims are targeting white girls for sexual exploitation because a) The girls are white b) The offenders are of Pakistani background and c) The offenders are Muslim, is recklessly inflammatory and simply not supported by the scant evidence they provide. Such a brazen attempt to force public policy to racially-profile British Asian Muslims betrays all victims of CSE, but especially the children from the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community whom Quilliam have rendered invisible through their report. In their 2012 report, the OCC warns against exactly this:

“We have heard myths that only white girls are exploited and as a result we have evidence of black and minority ethnic victims being ignored. Boys too often remain invisible victims, as the assumption is that only girls are subjected to these assaults. We have spoken with victims who begged for help and no one listened or took the actions necessary to meet their needs”.

Similarly, Barnardo’s 2016 report finds:

“The risk of stereotyping people affected by CSE is that it can prevent the identification of victims.”

Preying on Prejudice: Our final thoughts

“In recent weeks, he has become obsessed with Muslims, accusing them all of being rapists and being part of paedophile gangs” - Sarah Andrews, partner of British terrorist Darren Osborne, the Finsbury Park Mosque Killer.

Image for post
Image for post
Devastating scenes from the Finsbury Park Mosque Attack.

Quilliam’s self-styling as “counter-extremists” who rarely, if ever, seem to counter extremism, mirrors the hubris and vanity of its Chairman Nawaz. Whenever they have stepped off the (not actually) countering extremism gravy-train they’ve been abject failures. This report into CSE, in which the authors have absolutely no expertise or background in, follows in the same vein. Their eagerness to cherry-pick evidence, misrepresent evidence, take evidence out of context and exaggerate places huge question marks over their objectivity.

Those involved with the report have a history in duplicity and associating with the kind of anti-Muslim extremists who benefit most from the swarthy Muslims preying on white girls trope. For Haras Rafiq, this crystalised during his appearance before the Home Affairs Committee, where he was castigated by MPs for Quilliam’s links to the anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute. Rafiq’s response was to deceive the MPs and issue a denial. He was explicit:

“Quilliam US is a separate entity — it is not a UK entity, it has no trustees or directors sitting on it from the UK”.

However, Rafiq’s claim was dishonest. 2015’s Tax Filings for the US-based Quilliam prove Maajid Nawaz is registered as their Chairman. Similarly, and before the same committee, Rafiq was again misleading the panel whom he assured:

“we only facilitated Tommy Robinson leaving EDL and NEVER had any business dealings with him”.

Not only have Quilliam since admitted business dealings” with Robinson, they had been secretly lobbying Government for him to receive taxpayer money.

Co-author Muna Adil has a less disreputable background. In fact, she has little in the way of professional background at all. She’s a journalism graduate who had been working for Quilliam just months when she had begun this grooming-gangs report.

The Sunday Times staff writer Iram Ramzan was entrusted with breaking the news of the report by Quilliam. Not revealed however, was that she is, or the very least was, a supporter of Quilliam who has playfully declared her “love” for sexy Maajid Nawaz and cheekily described herself as a “Quilliam whore”.

She has also been known to ring Maajid Nawaz on air at LBC as “Iram from Manchester”; where they pretend to not know of each other.

As has been comprehensively demonstrated, Quilliam’s much-hyped yet highly misleading report is a rabble-rousing and race-baiting travesty of truth which betrays the authors stated motivations. Like The Times’ 2011 investigation, the report is highly flawed, yet it’s propaganda has been embraced by the media and the anti-Muslim masses - it has quick become accepted as truth as it serves their vested interests to believe it. It adds nothing to the public discourse beyond providing red meat to racists, neo-nazis and white supremacists to gorge on; and gorge they did. Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer used Quilliam’s report as the basis for their call to deport all ‘brown people” from the UK.

Essentially, Quilliam’s authors have simply repackaged the ‘academic racism’ popular in America. There, “grooming” follows all the same patterns and contains the same traits. Statistics show that blacks are the leading offenders and whites are the leading victims but what academic racists do, as Quilliam have done, but to a much lower standard, is to link these statistics to the offenders’ race and culture through stripping away all context. This is a dangerous game Quilliam’s authors play.

“You rape our women and you are taking over country. You have to go” - Dylan Roof, 2015.

Jamelle Bouie explained that the nine African-Americans massacred by Dylan Roof were just the latest in a long line of innocent black victims to die at the hand of the white man for “raping our women”. Antisemitic media produced by the Nazis replicated this highly emotive propaganda, as the Holocaust Research Project explains:

“Der Stürmer tied Jews to sex and crime. The paper carried increasing numbers of stories of Jewish rape and other distasteful crimes against the German people.”

In stark contrast to Adil and Rafiq’s patronising claim that “We began thinking we would debunk the media narrative that Asians are over-represented in this specific crime”, it is apparent that the authors bent-over-backwards to do the polar-opposite, in spite of their ‘Pakistani background’.

Author and journalist CJ Werleman suspects this can be explained by Quilliam’s loyalty to their right-wing funders being above their loyalties to the British Asian Muslim community. Irrespective of motive and be it malice or incompetence, the ramifications are the same - Quilliam have played into the hands of patriarchal white men suffering their racist delusions of protecting ‘their’ white girls from the Jewish predator, the black predator or the predator du jour, the backward Pakistani Muslim predator.

Vigilante justice at the hands of the white man comes in many violent forms. White men in America had public lynchings and castrations of blacks, white Germans had the Jewish Holocaust, while white English men have stomped elderly Muslim men to death, set them on fire, murdered them in terror attacks and threatened entire communities with acid attacks. In each case highlighted, the white terrorists and murderers were radicalised by a narrative on ‘grooming’ which mirrors the Quilliam Foundation’s. Time will tell of the consequences to be felt on innocent Muslims.


In March, Quilliam were to increase their toxic influence on the public debate when Maajid Nawaz appeared as a panelist on Sky News’ The Pledge. For reasons not explained, Nawaz was afforded a three minute monologue to push his propaganda — a propaganda which was replete with fabrications and misrepresentations.

Unsurprisingly, Nawaz’s fabrications and misrepresentations target the British Muslim and Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities. His first, and arguably his most damning fabrication comes within just twenty seconds:

Time and time again, they have found that British Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim men like me, have been involved in grooming white girls in what I would describe as ’racially motivated sexual assault’

This is false. For absolute clarity Not even Quilliam’s own disgrace of a report makes such an outlandish claim.

It’s unclear if Nawaz is wilfully misrepresenting the Quilliam report or is simply ignorant as to its findings. As explained previously, Quilliam’s own report misrepresents the findings of the CEOP (2013). Nawaz adds his own layer of misinformation in misrepresenting Quilliam’s report to demonise Muslims.

Type 1 is the grooming of underage white girls — or any girls — by gangs of men. In type 1, where grooming gangs are involved, what we found in our research was that 84% of gang grooming of underage girls were South Asian. To be specific, they were Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims.

Type 2 which is ’ordinary paedophilia’ is more representative of wider society. One statistic found that it was about 87% that were white. Another found that 100% were white. But of course, that’s not surprising because the vast majority of the country is white.

Nawaz is speaking nonsense. Almost everything he says is a falsehood. It doesn’t matter how Muslim or Pakistani he claims he is, he should never be invited to speak on this subject as an authority ever again.

  • “Type 1” is defined as the grooming of children for CSA purposes who have been targetted due to their vulnerability by a group of 2 or more i.e. not “the grooming of underage white girls — or any girls — by gangs of men”
  • “Type 2” is defined as the grooming of children for CSA purposes by a group of 2 or more adults who have targetted their victims based on the group’s sexual interest in children i.e. not ’ordinary paedophilia’.

Once again, Nawaz repeats his outrageous untruth that Quilliam found that 84% of those convicted for gang-grooming related crimes were ‘Muslim’ and just in case the next Darren Osbourne missed it the first two times, Nawaz repeats his hate-mongering fabrication a third time, in three minutes, for good measure:

Once again, what is interesting is the disproportionate figure of 84% hailing from my background. Why that is interesting is because roughly 2% of the country are Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim men who are responsible for collective grooming of underage white girls.

He seems determined to racialise the issue and to specifically attribute blame to Islam. There is no evidence to support his “racially motivated sexual assault” theory. All that remains is a Klu-Klux-Klanesque conspiracy theory and for a Muslim to be public face of such racist propaganda is an abomination.

His lauded appearance on The Pledge is not an isolated incident. He has abused his many platforms on social media and on radio to push the same anti-Muslim and anti-Asian message. To the uninformed majority, his deception will not be apparent and when combined with his supposed identity, his misinformation is especially potent.

  1. There are zero “child-grooming” cases in the UK. There is no offence of simply “child-grooming”.
  2. Quilliam’s own shoddy report does not claim that 84% of “rape cases in the UK” involve “South Asian Muslim men”.
  3. Quilliam’s own shoddy report makes no claims on the number of ‘Muslims’ convicted of grooming related offences. Police don’t record the religions of those they have arrested.
  1. Robinson and Nawaz certainly do not “argue lots”. Excluding Robinson’s paychecks from Quilliam, they don’t argue about anything meaningful at all. This is despite Robinson being Britain’s most prominent extremist and Nawaz maintaining the pretense of being a “counter extremist”.
  2. The 85% figure quoted is a fabrication. Quilliam’s report makes no mention of having collated data on Type 2 groups. However, the CEOP report they cite has Type 2 groups at 100% white.
  3. Once again, Nawaz has conflated Asians with ‘Muslims’ in the manner of a garden-variety racist (or an “anti Muslim extremist”) to demonise Muslims.

Absent of any pushback, we can be certain that Maajid Nawaz will continue to push his divisive disinformation which is causing fractures upon the UK’s racial fault lines. Complaints can be made to the the broadcasting regulator Ofcom here:

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store