The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has defended the potential deportation of convicted grooming gang members to Pakistan even if it risks them reoffending.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Javid said stripping offenders of British citizenship would happen only in extreme cases involving individuals with dual nationality.

He was pressed on the issue by the programme’s guest editor, the Pakistani-British writer Kamila Shamsie, who pointed out that the lack of sex offender registers in Pakistan would make it easier for offenders deported from the UK to repeat their crimes.

Javid responded: “I’m the British home secretary. My job is to protect the British public.”

Seeking to clarify, Shamsie asked: “If you are sending members of grooming gangs to Pakistan, knowing that there is not a sex offenders registry, what they do there is not anything to do with you?”

Javid said: “My job is to protect the British public.”

In August, three members of a Rochdale grooming gang, who had Pakistani backgrounds, lost an appeal against a decision to strip them of their British citizenship.

Javid, who was born in Rochdale, was asked whether he took such cases personally. He said: “When I heard about grooming gangs where almost every individual involved is of Pakistani heritage, I can’t help noting that. But I can’t helping noting the fact that Rochdale is a town that means something to me and I’m also of Pakistani heritage.”

He faced criticism over a Twitter message he posted in October about “sick Asian paedophiles” in a Huddersfield gang. Javid told Today: “I’m very much aware of the need for politicians to be careful with language as well as what they do. When it comes to gang-based child exploitation it is self-evident to anyone who cares to look that if you look at all the recent high-profile cases there is a high proportion of men that are of Pakistani heritage.”

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