Pakistan’s director of probation Arshad Mahmood has visited the service in Rochdale to share learning about the management of child sexual exploitation (CSE) perpetrators in the context of Pakistan and Islam.
Mr Mahmood met with staff at the Cheshire & Greater Manchester’s Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CGM CRC) Rochdale office. The director, from the Government of the Punjab’s Home Department, was accompanied by Rochdale councillor Sultan Ali, the ex-mayor of Rochdale and a former probation officer.
Mr Mahmood visited Rochdale a few years ago when the CSE scandal in Rochdale was making national headlines and agreed to pick up work in Pakistan relating to Islam, CSE and sexual harassment. He also met with the National Probation Service and the Specialist CSE policing unit to discuss the Rochdale child sexual exploitation strategy.
He said: “There is nothing in Islam that condones the criminal behaviour of the gangs that had been operating in Rochdale. There are complex customs and family and community control structures within Pakistani families that often precludes the availability of children to sexual predators within their own communities.”
CGM CRC Interchange Manager Maria Albuquerque-Neale said: “I talked about how CGM CRC manages the CSE cases it supervises. We work closely with partners in the community to manage risk and share intelligence using place based integrated teams.”
It was agreed that any future effective working would require closer working with all communities, education services, children’s social care, local authorities, police and religious organisations for the protection of vulnerable children.
The media also had a role to play through education about acceptable behaviour standards towards children by adults.
Maria added: “We discussed how CGM CRC and the Probation Service in Pakistan could work together including the training and development of colleagues in Pakistan about service user assessment and report writing. There was also a need to develop the knowledge of UK CRC colleagues about religion and the Pakistani community.”
They also discussed how CGM CRC and the Probation Service in Pakistan could work more closely to support and manage service users who needed to return to Pakistan at key points in their sentence. For example, when on licence and needing to travel to see a very sick relative or to meet up for marriage arrangements when there are risk management concerns.
“Maria said: “We had some positive discussions. I’m sure the contacts made will prove very useful in the future.”