Eleven arrested in crackdown on child sexual exploitation in Manchester

Greater Manchester Police detained suspects aged between 19 and 38

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The Independent Online

Eleven people have been arrested in south Manchester as part of a crackdown on child sexual exploitation (CSE), police have said.

The suspected abusers, aged between 19 and 38, were detained for alleged offences including sexual activity with a child, attempted indecent assault, inciting a child into prostitution, abduction and rape.

The arrests were made under Operation Heliodor, which is part of Project Phoenix, a multi-agency campaign tackling CSE in the Greater Manchester area.

Greater Manchester Police’s Protect team has spent months intervening in the sexual exploitation of girls and its links to organised crime in and around the Longsight area of the city, as well as other areas.

The team is made up of police, children's services, health services, and Barnardo's and covers the Salford and Manchester areas.

Detective Inspector Debbie Oakes said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation and those responsible for such heinous crimes is an absolute priority for us.

“I want to assure our communities that combatting CSE is a Force priority for GMP and we would encourage anyone who is a victim of this kind of abuse to come to either us, a family member or the charities and support agencies who are out there and help us bring the offenders to justice.”

She added:  “Operation Heliodor is ongoing and, with this collaborative approach we will continue to target those involved in CSE. I fully anticipate more warrants and arrests as we continue in our investigation.”

Lynn Perry MBE, regional director for Barnardo’s in the West said: “We are pleased to be at the heart of an inter-agency partnership in Greater Manchester tackling child sexual exploitation; supporting and enabling young people to speak out and providing child victims of sexual exploitation with appropriate, long term support.”

The arrests come at a time of increased scrutiny over the way police forces, including Greater Manchester, deal with child sexual exploitation allegations in the wake of damning reports and claims that widespread abuse of children was effectively ignored by officers for years.

Earlier this month, it was claimed child sex grooming gangs in Greater Manchester have avoided prosecution due to a failure by the police force to pursue claims against them.

Greater Manchester Police was accused by serving and former detectives of attempting to cover up failings to tackle gangs of Asian men who were abusing young girls.

Additional reporting by Press Association