Eight men have been arrested in Oxford as part of an investigation into alleged grooming and child sexual exploitation dating back to the 1990s.
More than 100 officers raided their homes at 6am this morning in an operation by Thames Valley Police.
Two of the arrested men were 36 years old and the others were aged 29, 31, 33, 37, 44 and 45.
The suspects have not been officially named but police said their “self-declared ethnicity” would be released after they are taken into custody.
Detectives are investigating around 60 alleged offences against girls in Oxford between 1999 and 2007 in an operation code named “Sabaton”.
Detective Superintendent Joe Kidman, head of Thames Valley Police’s protecting vulnerable people unit, said: “I understand today’s events will have an impact on the community and residents will be concerned about the nature of these arrests.
“As you will understand, this is an ongoing investigation. We are not able to provide all the information straight away, but we will keep the community updated when we can.
“Tackling child sexual exploitation is an absolute priority for Thames Valley Police.”
Police are working with Oxfordshire County Council, who have put six social workers on the case, to support alleged victims and protect their identities.
Det Supt Kidman appealed to anyone who has not yet come forward to police, either as a victim or with information that may help the investigation, to get in contact.
“We would encourage all victims of child sexual exploitation to come forward and speak to us in confidence,” he added. “We will listen to you and we will support you.”
Anyone concerned about a person they think may be a victim of child exploitation in the UK can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 or visit their website at www.childline.org.uk.Reuse content