Saima Afzal is a nationally-recognised expert for her work related to race, religion, and working with under-represented communities. Ms Afzal, a Lancashire Police Authority independent member, gives her personal opinion on the issue of sex grooming.

THE claim that some South Asian males are increasingly seeking to exploit white females is a sweeping statement that is not confirmed by statistics.

Unfortunately, while acknowledging that some South Asian males will sexually exploit white females – of any age – South Asian females do not have immunity from the problem.

Criminals will always feed on vulnerability and seek out the easiest targets.

Abuse of women by men, regardless of their ethnicity, is not a new phenomenon.

The sexual abuse of white females by some South Asian men is only one dimension of sexual abuse.

It is true in some cases that the strong family and community cultural links that often place restrictions on the freedom, and movements, of South Asian females can serve to provide them with increased protection from predators.

Generalisation, however, would be wrong. Not all South Asian females are restricted to the same extent and in some cases, due to constraints in the main only being placed upon their contact with white males, they are more likely to become the prey of men from within their own communities.

Disproportionate attention on South Asian offenders is dangerous.

It will only serve to direct increased resources towards this particular area, meaning profiling of all abusers, and identification of those being abused and the nature of their vulnerabilities, could well be overlooked.

As a result, tackling the overall problem will become more difficult and offenders may not be caught.

If the public believes that a higher proportion of South Asian males are predatory towards white females purely on racial grounds, I am concerned this will damage the attempts to create community cohesion between the South Asian and indigenous communities.

It is surely vital that all criminality, including sexual abuse and exploitation, are tackled effectively, regardless of the ethnicity of the offender We need the co-operation of our communities to help identify offenders.

To ensure this continues, it is essential that the harmony and goodwill between all community groups is preserved.

Sometimes, focusing on one element of criminality in the community is necessary.

However, this should be done sensitively and in a manner that does not detract from the good work already taking place.

Without doubt, there is an issue, but we must retain a sense of proportionality in order to see criminal behaviour tackled effectively, whoever is responsible and from whatever background.

I am confident that Lancashire Constabulary is tackling this element of criminality.