12 bailed in 'sexploitation' probe

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The Independent Online

Twelve men arrested over the alleged grooming and sexual abuse of vulnerable young girls have been released on bail, police said today.

Officers swooped on the suspects in dawn raids yesterday as part of the largest child sexual exploitation investigation ever carried out by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).

Ten men, aged between 18 and 28 and from a mix of ethnicities, were questioned over allegations of plying teenage girls with alcohol and drugs before carrying out abuse at sex parties.

Two further suspects were held later when one answered bail for an unconnected offence while the other handed himself in at a police station.

A further two men were also arrested today on suspicion of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, bringing the total number of arrests to 14.

A quantity of drugs were also found at several of the targeted addresses, all in Greater Manchester and Derbyshire.

A GMP spokesman said around 100 officers were involved in Operation Windermere.

He added: "The joint operation by officers from GMP's Major Incident Team and Stockport Division yesterday resulted in a total of 12 arrests.

"Those arrested have been released on bail, pending further inquiries, until September 2011."

Speaking yesterday, Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: "This is about people being befriended by individuals and that befriending includes the offer of being taken for a meal or for drinks and then it will move from that befriending stage to... the manipulation stage."

The girls involved in the case are were being given support from police, social services and their families, Mr Sweeney added.