Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rape Police to Visit 30 Women

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rape Police to Visit 30 Women

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

POLICE probing the sexual exploitation of teenage girls on Tyneside have identified 30 women they need to speak to.

This week 27 people, aged 19 to 45, were arrested as part of an investigation into a plot to rape girls and young women.

And now the officer in charge of the probe, codenamed Operation Sanctuary, has revealed that detectives have discovered the names of 30 females who could be victims or have vital information.

Northumbria Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Gary Calvert, told the Chronicle that specialist detectives would now be approaching these women sensitively and speaking to them. He said: "There are approximately 30 women, the majority of whom are adults, whose names have come into the investigation. We will now be approaching these women to establish if they are indeed part of the investigation or victims.

"That will be done sensitively and confidentially. We know their names from various sources and various inquiries.

"We now need to find out more about them and talk to them. I must stress that these women are not necessarily victims but we believe may have information that can help us."

Operation Sanctuary was launched several weeks ago after police received a report expressing concern for a teenage girl.

Arrests began on Monday morning when officers swooped on homes in a series of early morning raids. Other suspects were brought in for questioning from properties in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside, throughout the week.

All those arrested, 25 men and two women, were questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to rape before being released on bail.

Officers have also searched 27 properties and seized items which are now being forensically examined.

Several victims, a number of which are or have been in local authority care, had already been identified before the arrests.

Police have also praised the community for their response to the probe.

And ACC Calvert said there was no evidence of tensions or unrest in the areas in which arrests were made.

He added: "As far as the community is concerned there has been a fantastic response. …

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