Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Emergency Meeting over Rape Arrests

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Emergency Meeting over Rape Arrests

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Reporter

AN emergency meeting of community leaders has rallied support in the face of child exploitation arrests.

A gathering of representatives from a variety of backgrounds and religious faiths gathered at a property in Newcastle's West End late on Tuesday to discuss the raids carried out as part of Operation Sanctuary.

So far 26 people have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape teenage girls and young women following two swoops on properties in Newcastle and Gateshead on Monday and Tuesday.

Some of the alleged victims are currently in, or had been in local authority care.

Dipu Ahad, Newcastle city councillor for Elswick, said the meeting was a chance to share information about the arrests and the impact the wide-scale operation is having on Newcastle's West End.

He said: "We have been approached by many people from different communities and there's anxiety about the people who have been arrested.

"There's a lot of confusion and we have to reassure the community that the police and the local authority are working together to make sure we are helping people as much as possible.

"I want to reassure the community again that this is something that is isolated and the police are doing their utmost to make sure that the community is supported." Influential people from at least eight separate community organisations attended the four hour meeting, which ran into the early hours of the next morning, and many learnt of the scale of Operation Sanctuary for the first time.

While leaders were aware of arrests happen-ing on at least seven separate streets in Newcastle on Monday and Tuesday morning, they were given more details of the police investigation and how to help people in the community work with the authorities. …

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