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Police operations into ‘child sex abuse by groups’ – Exaro’s list

Research reveals detectives’ 30 ‘major’ operations into sexual exploitation of children

Exaro identifies 30 “major” police operations to investigate suspected child sexual exploitation by groups or gangs in England and Wales.

Research by Exaro revealed the figure and prompted Britain’s most senior officer in the field to say that resources devoted to such cases were comparable to those used to investigate murders or serious organised crime.

Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), the London-based police unit that works with forces throughout the UK to tackle sexual abuse of children, said that the number had grown because of increasing awareness of the issue.

I just think that is reflective of the growing momentum around this issue

Peter Davies, chief executive, CEOP

He said: “Had you asked the same question possibly even two years ago, you would not have the same level of response.

“I do not think I am doing an injustice to my colleagues. I just think that is reflective of the growing momentum around this issue, and the fact that people are reacting to public interest, new awareness of vulnerability and risk to the public.”

The list is compiled from answers to requests for details from all police forces covering 43 areas in England and Wales. Some details were supplied under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Details came from 30 police forces, while 11 failed to provide any information. So, the true number of operations is bound to be even higher.

The 11 forces that supplied no details are: Cheshire Constabulary, Dorset Police, Durham Constabulary, Gwent Police, Hampshire Constabulary, Lincolnshire Police, Northumbria Police, Nottinghamshire Police, Staffordshire Police, Surrey Police, and Sussex Police.

The Metropolitan Police Service would only confirm three operations: Yewtree, Fairbank and Fernbridge. It was the only force to reject Exaro’s FOIA request for the total number of such operations on the grounds that it would be too expensive to answer.

But Exaro has established from another police force that the Met has at least one other such operation.

In addition, two forces did not provide the details requested. West Midlands Police said that it had investigated 18 cases of child sex exploitation since February 2010, but was unable to say how many were current and related to gangs and groups.

Humberside Police said that it was investigating one “major” case of child sex abuse, but would not say whether it concerned a group or gang.

Police force Number of operations Details and comments
Derbyshire Constabulary 1 Operation Kern has focused on the sexual exploitation of girls in Derby. Two men were convicted, one of them jailed, in 2011. A further eight men were jailed in 2012. Another two men awaiting trial.
Devon and Cornwall Police 1 Operation Mansfield, launched in 2011, is investigating suspected sexual exploitation of girls in Torbay and Teignbridge. The investigation was scaled down after one man was jailed in 2011. Operation open to receive fresh allegations or information.
Greater Manchester Police 3 Operation Span is investigating a child-grooming ring in Rochdale. Nine men were jailed in 2012, and another was jailed this month.
Operation Routh is investigating suspected sexual abuse in Rochdale of one girl by many alleged abusers. Nine men charged. Trial expected in September.
Operation Windermere centres on the alleged trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls in care in south Manchester. So far, 21 people arrested, five of them have been charged. Force last year said that more than 300 officers were investigating child sexual exploitation and related offences.
Lancashire Constabulary 6 Details of individual operations not disclosed. One operation is led by the force’s ‘Freedom Team’ and centres on suspected abuse in and around Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.
Metropolitan Police Service 4 Operation Yewtree is a three-strand investigation into historical allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile, ‘Savile and others’, and ‘others’. Nine men have been arrested and bailed – including celebrities and former production staff. Officers are investigating 589 allegations. These include 450 allegations against Savile, including multiple rape claims.
Operation Fernbridge is investigating an alleged paedophile ring including MPs and prominent people centred on a guest house in south-west London and nearby Grafton Close children’s home three decades ago.
Operation Fairbank focuses on other historical allegations against political figures.
The Met is also leading what Essex Police describes as a ‘serious’ case related to child sexual exploitation linked to a group of men in east London. The Met’s Trafficking and Prostitution Unit is leading the investigation, with Essex Police and social services providing information. Four men were charged in east London in December.
North Wales Police 1 Operation Pallial is investigating 105 potential victims of abuse at care homes in north Wales, including Bryn Estyn in Wrexham. It is led by the National Crime Agency, which is supported by 27 officers from several forces.
Northamptonshire Police 3 Three “protracted and sizeable investigations” into suspected child sexual exploitation “over the last 12 months” were confirmed. “Four dedicated staff” still working on all the cases. The county’s force would not confirm names of operations. However, Operation Gizmo has been publicised locally and is targeting the production and distribution of indecent images of children.
Operation Challenge is focussed on tackling violence generally, but several people have been arrested on suspicion of crimes linked with sexual abuse of children.
Separately, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has asked the force to review a historical investigation into alleged sexual abuse in Corby, which is in the county.
South Wales Police 1 Operation Globe. A man and two women were charged in December. Charges include conspiracy to rape, conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a girl aged under 13, and possession of indecent images of children.
South Yorkshire Police 2 Unable to provide details of two major investigations for “operational reasons”. One centres on widely-publicised allegations of child sexual exploitation by a group in Rotherham. Five men were jailed in 2010. In November, Rotherham council identified 58 youngsters at risk of sexual exploitation, and this month apologised to victims for a “systemic failure” to tackle abuse.
Last year, South Yorkshire had eight dedicated officers investigating child sexual exploitation, and 79 reviewing allegations of non-sexual child abuse.
Suffolk Constabulary 3 Operation Racecourse centres on sexual and non-sexual abuse of children at St George’s School, Wicklewood in Norfolk. Suffolk is the lead police force because the school was later relocated to the county. Ten officers are investigating. At least four men arrested, including the latest arrest in December 2012. Two former teachers – including the school’s former headmaster – jailed.
Ten officers in Operation Oxenton are investigating historical allegations of abuse at Oakwood School in Stowmarket, Suffolk. One man was jailed in 1987.
A third operation is reviewing an investigation carried out by the force  in 1992 into alleged abuse, including sexual molestation, at Kesgrave Hall boarding school, near Ipswich.
Thames Valley Police 2 Operation Bullfinch centres on a group in Oxford alleged to traffic children for sex. The trial of nine men began at the Old Bailey earlier this month. Charges include rape and trafficking. They deny the charges. Three other men were arrested last November.
Operation Ribbon is investigating an alleged child-sex ring in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. At least nine men arrested so far. Seven were charged with 32 offences in total last November.
West Mercia Police 1 Operation Chalice is investigating suspected sexual abuse of girls in Telford, Shropshire. It led to the three-month trial of nine men accused of trafficking, exploitation and rape. The trial collapsed in September 2011, and the jury was discharged. West Mercia’s investigation continues.
West Yorkshire Police 2 At least two major investigations into suspected child sexual exploitation are underway. One is focused on the Leeds, and the Beeston area in particular. Last November, 12 men were arrested, and remain on police bail.
A second operation centres on Bradford and neighbouring areas. Last July, 10 people were arrested.
TOTAL 30  

 

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