Ten arrested in swoop on suspected child sex gang

A group of men accused of being sexual predators, grooming vulnerable young girls for "horrific abuse" and sex parties, were arrested in morning raids yesterday.

The 10 men were detained at a series of addresses by about 100 detectives involved in Operation Windermere, one of the largest child sexual-exploitation investigations carried out by Greater Manchester Police.

The suspects are accused of abusing dozens of children and police believe there may be more victims who have yet to come forward. Many of the girls, some of whom were aged 14, were in care and vulnerable.

The gang would pick them up outside shops or stations and befriend them with gifts and meals, police said. They would then groom the girls, ply them with alcohol and drugs and abuse them at sex parties.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of Greater Manchester, said the girls had been "exploited, manipulated and abused".

The operation was part of a series of investigations into child sexual exploitation. "The abuse can be stopped by the community working with us and telling us what is going on," he said.

"We need the public to come forward to help us protect these young people and prevent them from becoming victims of this horrific abuse."

The investigation is focusing on a core group of four to six victims from Stockport. Mr Sweeney said officers were talking to 39 girls, though not all are victims and some are being treated as witnesses at this stage. Many of the girls were in local authority care. The abuse came to light after they spoke to their carers.

The force said that the girls were now being given support from police, social services and their families. The men, aged between 18 and 28, were arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.