Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sex Shame Secrets of the Suburbs

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Sex Shame Secrets of the Suburbs

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Reporter kate.proctor@ncjmedia.co.uk

A SECRET underworld of vulnerable women lured to parties and abused has been revealed by police investigating a sex ring.

As the number of women linked to allegations of sex exploitation in Newcastle rises to 80, officers are appealing for help from the public to break-up secretive gatherings going on behind closed doors.

Northumbria Police officers have now arrested 30 people on suspicion of conspiracy to rape following raids over the past two weeks in an investigation called Operation Sanctuary.

Three of those were brought in for questioning after a woman in her twenties walked into a city police station in the early hours of Tuesday morning alleging she had been raped.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said police now had the names of 80 women, who are either alleged victims or witnesses to abuse, and they will attempt to contact them with the help of voluntary organisations.

All the women and girls involved are linked by their extreme 'vulnerability' he said and it is suspected they have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs and then subjected to sexual assault or rape.

He said: "The one thread through this is vulnerability.

Vulnerability by an addiction to alcohol, or substance misuse, in some cases the women will have learning diffi-culties. They are the vulnerable girls and women living in our city."

Potential victims are a range of ages and include teenage girls and adults. Some of the teenagers involved are in the care of the local authority or had left care.

DCC Ashman said those in care and other teenagers had been susceptible to 'grooming' and had been led to addresses across the city.

He said: "They might be the people who live in your street, or the girls who go to school with your sons and daughters. …

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