In the highly charged fallout from the Rotherham report, Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service's lead on child sexual abuse and violence against women and girls, tries to offer a calm perspective. Unruffled by mounting media hysteria over the ethnicity of abusers in Rotherham, he suggests stepping back and taking a wider view of the nationwide picture of child sex abuse.

His role means he has oversight of all child sex abuse cases in England and Wales. "So I know that the vast majority of offenders are British white male," he says, setting the number at somewhere between 80 and 90%. "We have come across cases all over the country and the ethnicity of the perpetrators varies depending on where you are … It is not the abusers' race that defines them. It is their attitude to women that defines them."

Afzal, 51, is resigned to the ongoing scrutiny of commentators on the right towards the role of Asian men in recent grooming cases, but thinks that the focus is an overreaction. He is also wary of the suggestion found in the report, and reiterated by home secretary Theresa May on Tuesday, that a culture of "political correctness" had contributed to the authorities' decision to turn a blind eye to the abuse of at least 1,400 in Rotherham.

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