Tyne & Wear

Operation Sanctuary: Dozens held in exploitation inquiry

Nearly 60 people have been arrested as part of an investigation by Northumbria Police into claims of sexual crimes against vulnerable women and girls.

Officers said they had identified 80 potential victims through Operation Sanctuary.

Police are trying to contact them and identify witnesses.

So far, 57 men and two women have been arrested and six have been charged with various sexual offences, including grooming a girl under 16 and rape.

'Slow process'

Some of the possible victims were in local authority care at the time of the alleged attacks.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said contacting the women was a "slow process, often involving several meetings with an individual before the circumstances can be established".

"What we are seeing is more members of the public prepared to share information about concerns they may have," he said.

"Some of these incidents may well form part of the Operation Sanctuary investigation and some may be investigated separately but they are all important to us and I want to reassure the public that we will take all such information seriously."

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