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Six men must stay away from girls

Six men have been ordered to stay away from girls after social services bosses in Birmingham took ''innovative'' legal action in a bid to protect vulnerable children who may be victims of sexual exploitation.

Mr Justice Keehan granted long-term injunctions after social workers and police raised concerns about the welfare of a vulnerable 17-year-old girl who is in the care of Birmingham City Council.

The judge, who today analysed the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, heard how the girl had been found in a hotel room and around cars with men by police in Birmingham.

He ruled that the men who were the subject of orders could be identified - despite objections from police, who had raised concerns about the men's safety - after journalists argued that the public had a right to know.

He heard arguments about the publication of names from police, some of the men and journalists.

And he said: ''There is a high public interest in the public having the right to know what has happened in this case.''

Mr Justice Keehan has granted injunctions against Mohammed Anjam, Omar Ahmed, Naseem Khan, Mohammed Javed, Shah Alam and Sajid Hussain - who all come from the Birmingham area.

None has been convicted of any criminal offence in relation to the teenager.

But the judge's order bars them from approaching her until she turns 18.

It also bars them from approaching ''any female under 18'', with whom they are not personally associated, in public places.

Lawyers for Birmingham City Council are due to present more evidence against a number of other men tomorrow.

Two of the men due to be dealt with tomorrow are serving prison sentences following convictions for unrelated offences.

Mr Justice Keehan has been told that one of those prisoners has convictions for crimes including burglary, sexual assault and racially-aggravated public order offences.

Lawyers have told how Birmingham City Council launched civil court proceedings against 10 men with the aim of protecting youngsters who may not understand what was happening to them.

Lorna Meyer QC, for Birmingham City Council, said West Midlands Police had supported the move.

She said the council and police had identified a ''number of individuals'' found to be ''inappropriately'' in the company of the 17-year-old girl.

Lawyers thought that there was not enough evidence to secure criminal convictions - on a beyond reasonable doubt basis - ''at the current time''.

But they thought that there was enough evidence to obtain civil court injunctions - on a balance of probabilities basis.

Miss Meyer said that if long-term injunctions were made, and any of the men were found ''in the company of a vulnerable child'' by West Midlands Police or Birmingham City Council in breach or orders, then lawyers would ask a judge to impose jail terms for contempt of court.

Most of the men denied doing anything wrong.

One had complained that people thought ''that is what Asians are doing'' because of ''what goes in the news''.

Another said proceedings were a "cover up from social services" and added: "Social workers and police are not serving justice with these injunctions and what they are doing is not right."

And another told reporters as he left court today that the proceedings were "racist" - and he said he aimed to appeal.

Mr Justice Keehan made orders against Anjam, 31, of Aston, and Ahmed, 27, of Yardley, on Monday.

And he ruled today that their names could be revealed.

An order had been made against Hussain, 40, of Warwick Road, Birmingham, at an earlier hearing.

The judge today ruled that he could be named.

And orders were today made against Khan, 29, of Bordesley Green, Javed, 34, of Tyseley, and Alam, who was 37 today and comes from Small Heath.

And the judge said he was satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the teenager had been "sexually exploited".

Children's charity the NSPCC has backed the council's approach. Officials said social services bosses had taken a brave, if possibly controversial, step.

''We absolutely support this move as its ultimate aim is to protect young girls who are potential sexual abuse victims,'' said Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's programmes tackling sexual abuse.

''This is a serious child protection issue as several recent grooming cases have graphically shown and the authorities must use every weapon in their armoury to stamp it out.

''We know that many victims do not realise they have been groomed by calculating offenders who are simply targeting them for sex and sometimes to 'sell them on' to other abusers. Our work in this area shows it is a sickening and insidious crime which severely damages many young lives.''

He added: ''This is a brave step that may prove to be controversial but any measured effort to stop the foul activities of those seeking to exploit vulnerable children is to be welcomed.''

The judge heard that the council has spent tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees.

And council lawyers say officials want the men to pay some of the costs.

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