A company that trained Havering’s Safeguarding Children Board on the dangers of child sexual exploitation has hit back at claims it is a “radical Islamic group”.
Two weeks ago The Telegraph newspaper ran a story saying Street UK, which works with young “urban” men at risk of committing child sexual exploitation (CSE) or violence, was working with Oxfordshire County Council in the wake of revelations of wide-scale child abuse in the area.
It went on to say the group had its government grant withdrawn in 2011 after paying for the publication of a booklet by Salafi Manhaj which issues regular fatwas enforcing a Salafist – or ultra-literal – view of Islam.
Representative Alyas Karmani has denied these claims and says Street UK has been “leading in the UK” on CSE since 2010.
“The allegations are completely false and baseless,” he said.
“The publication is a book called Warning Against Terrorism and Extremism. This was approved by the Home Office due to its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism.”
A Home Office spokesman said Street UK’s funding was stopped in March 2011 following a “review prioritisation exercise”.
In the past two years, Mr Karmani has held four sessions with the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in Havering about how to deal with CSE.
He has also worked with Oxfordshire Council, in the wake of Thames Valley Police’s Operation Bullfinch. The authority has been heavily criticised this week over the abuse scandal.
Mr Karmani said: “In relation to our anti-grooming and child sexual exploitation prevention work we have been leading in the UK since 2010 when we were featured on the award winning documentaryBritain’s Sex Gangs.
“Our work is respected and valued and we have been invited to give formal evidence to the Home Office Select Committee on two occasions and are cited in its report on grooming gangs.”
The training course it provides focuses on defining CSE, engaging with hard-to-reach communities, working with young urban men and those in gangs, the grooming process and the influencers and drivers of sexual violence in the South Asian/Pakistani community.
A Havering Council spokeswoman said: “The LSCB used this group to undertake four days of training. For our 2015/16 programme, we have changed our provider to Barnardo’s.”