Professor Alan Norrie and Mark Boyle on the controversy over the payment of £10,000 to a sex offender that helped to obtain convictions against 18 others

Your call (Editorial, 11 August) for properly funded research to understand the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls following the Newcastle trials is welcome, but in the wake of similar cases and what we (and you) already know, feels evasive.

At root, this is a problem of gender and class in a context of poverty and cutbacks in education and social services. Girls are violated because perpetrators, the police and social services have in their different ways ignored their vulnerability, treating them as other: as “meat”, as “trash”, as “white trash”, as manipulable, uncontrolled or uncontrollable, even as free subjects making responsible decisions despite their age. With this background, Northumbria police should be congratulated, the use of an informant seen as an important but secondary matter. Why lead your editorial with it?

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