A U.K. police officer once celebrated in the media for his diversity outreach efforts is one of the 16 men charged with sexually abusing girls as young as 13.
Amjad Ditta, 35, and 15 others are charged with an array of offenses against three girls in the Halifax area, the BBCreported.
The 16 men, whose alleged crimes include rape, sexual assault, supplying drugs and trafficking, are called to appear at Bradford Magistrates’ Court in January.
Ditta has been suspended from his position with the West Yorkshire Police’s Protective Services Operations, authorities said.
Ditta’s alleged involvement in what some news outlets have called a “child sex abuse ring” stands in stark contrast to media reports a few years ago heralding his role as a “positive action coordinator.”
The BBCcoveredDitta’s appointment to the post in May of 2016, when he was tasked with boosting the number of “Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people” applying to join the West Yorkshire Police.
Ditta cautioned parents against the dangers of failing to guide their children during a 2016 interview with a local radio presenter.
“We need to take an active role, as parents, in what our children are doing,” he told Asif Raja. “If we don’t show them the path, someone else will. And when someone else shows them that path, then we look back and we think, ‘where have we gone wrong?’”
At another point in the interview, Ditta encouraged community members to reach out to him if they were ever in need of support or wanted answers to certain questions.
“What people remember is who you are, not who you pretend to be,” he said.
“Whatever you are, you need to give back to the community,” Ditta added.
Ditta is seen, in atwo-year-old Facebook videotaken at a West Yorkshire mosque, explaining to a group of children what drove him to become a police officer.
“I always wanted to give something back to the community. I always wanted to give something back to the area where I lived, to people who I’d seen growing up, and give something back,” Ditta says in the video.
In a 2017 interview with BBC’s “Crimewatch Roadshow Live,” Ditta explained his strategy on outreach to the community.
“So what we’ve done now is we’ve made it a more personal approach,” he said.