Police stop 40 schoolgirls attending house party over child sex concerns

Officers shut down social media-organised party in Stoke-on-Trent after concerns raised by college teachers

Police shut down a house party in a city suburb involving dozens of children, including 40 girls, due to safety concerns.

Officers went to a house in Stoke-on-Trent and found girls as young as 14 arriving in taxis, after concerns were raised by teachers at a college.

Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable Jane Sawyers revealed the raid in response to a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary into the force’s effectiveness.

Pointing out how the force investigates “new types of crime”, she said: “An operation stopped groups who were organising parties through social media to attract young females in North Staffordshire with the intention to carry out child sexual exploitation.

“Colleagues from the public protection investigation team, the child exploitation team, integrated offender management, and social services, took responsibility for this problem so that, on 5 February, a planned party in the Bucknall area of Stoke-on-Trent was stopped and we took home up to 40 girls aged 14 to 15. Work is ongoing to support the girls and their families.”

But senior officers said later that most of the children had not entered the house. No arrests were made and there were no concerns that they were being exploited.

A spokeswoman said the officers had been looking at how social media was being used to advertise house parties across Stoke and had been made aware of reports via teachers, care workers and parents that some sexual activity had taken place.  She said: “The response by the police and partners has been to look to identify when and where such parties are taking place with a view to ensuring that they are being properly managed and young people are safe.

“On the occasions where we felt it appropriate to disrupt or prevent parties from taking place, we have done so.”

Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: “I’d urge all parents to take simple steps to improve their children’s online safety. This is crucial to reducing the risk of the sexual exploitation of children.”

A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council added: “We take our responsibility to tackle child sexual exploitation very seriously, and work with the police and other responsible agencies. 

“We will not tolerate the sexual abuse of children and are committed to supporting vulnerable children, and in this case, a range of support work is under way.”