Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'You Have to Feel Humbled by the Bravery of These Victims' COURAGE OF WOMEN AND GIRLS PUT PREDATORS IN JAIL

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'You Have to Feel Humbled by the Bravery of These Victims' COURAGE OF WOMEN AND GIRLS PUT PREDATORS IN JAIL

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY Crime Reporter sophie.doughty@ncjmedia.co.uk @Sophie_Doughty

IT was the bravery of some of our city's most vulnerable women and girls that eventually put the Sanctuary sex predators behind bars.

So far Northumbria Police has spent in excess of PS8m on its wideranging sex exploitation initiative.

But Chief Constable Steve Ashman said his officers could not have snared the vile perverts without the courageous girls and women who gave evidence against them.

He told the Chronicle: "One of the biggest challenges for the Sanctuary team has been to get to the point where victims, who have been through the most appalling abuse, are confident to trust us and stay with us through an arduous criminal justice process that has gone on for years. You have got to feel quite humbled by the bravery and courage of these victims.

"That they have stayed with us throughout is testament to their individual courage and bravery. Many of us will never understand the traumatic experience some of these women and girls have endured and they have my whole-hearted commitment that, together with our partners, we will continue to provide them with all the support they need.

"They have trusted us and we must not let them down."

The convictions come after a police investigation, code-named Operation Shelter, which formed part of Operation Sanctuary, an ongoing initiative tackling the exploitation of vulnerable people across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

During the course of the probe, police engaged with a staggering 108 women and girls who they believe may have suffered, either as victims or witnesses.

Although the charges at court only related to 22 complainants, all those thought to have been affected by the horrific actions of these men, who used drugs and alcohol to groom vulnerable females, have been offered help and support.

But today a Tyneside child sex abuse expert told the Chronicle that the road to recovery can be long and difficult.

And Steven Tait, team manager at the NSPCC's Newcastle base, explained it can be even harder for those that never get the chance to see justice. …

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