Imams in Bradford have met police to discuss a plan of action for safeguarding girls against sexual grooming and tackling drug crime and forced marriages.

Members of Bradford Imam Forum (BIF) held discussions with Inspector Jonathan Pickles to offer their help in a bid to cut crime across the district.

The group had called for the meeting to try to ensure Bradford does not suffer a similar case to that in Rochdale, which in May saw nine Asian men jailed for a total of 77 years for grooming vulnerable girls as young as 13.

At the time, ten Islamic clerics signed a statement saying they “wholeheartedly and unequivocally” condemned the “reprehensible” actions of the Rochdale sex offenders and vowed to prevent future abuse.

A BIF spokesman group said: “We want to strengthen our police by building a strong connection.

“Unfortunately, Bradford is among the highest crime rated areas in the country and it is the time to take a solid stand against the criminals.”

The meeting was organised by Syed Zafar Hussain, president of UK Islamic Mission Bradford, and chaired by Moulana Ubaid Ur Rehman, Imam of UK Islamic Mission in Byron Street, Bradford.

Imam Muhammed Mustaqeem Shah, vice-president of Bradford Imam Forum, said the groups would join forces to help police tackle problems including sexual grooming, drugs and forced marriages.

Mr Hussain said: “These crimes are very dangerous to our community.

“We will work with the police and other partner agencies and stand shoulder to shoulder to tackle these issues.

“The meeting was very useful and we have offered to help police if they want any training about Muslim issues. It is important they have that knowledge.”

Earlier this month West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison met community leaders in Bradford to discuss how to tackle sexual grooming offences during a summit with representatives of Bradford Council of Mosques and Keighley Muslim Association.

Insp Pickles said: “The police appreciate the action of Imams and their co-operation with the police to solve the problems in Bradford.”