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Police investigating new alleged grooming gang in Bolton after teenage girl 'raped for two years'

Investigators appeal for potential victims to contact them

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Monday 24 September 2018 19:22 BST
Police are appealing for information
Police are appealing for information (PA)

Police investigating an alleged grooming gang operating in Bolton are appealing for potential victims to come forward.

Seven suspects have so far been arrested in relation to the case and released as the probe continues.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said its officers received a report in June that a teenage girl had been groomed and raped by several men since March 2016 in the Blackrod area.

Six men aged 18, 18, 28, 25, 21, 29 and a 17-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of rape and have been released under investigation.

Police are continuing to interview further witnesses to establish whether there are further victims and offenders who need to be traced.

A police spokesperson said: “We treat each case individually and will always investigate any evidence presented to us. Reports of child sexual exploitation are always handled in the strictest confidence by specialist investigators.

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“Anyone who believes they have been a victim of child sexual exploitation should contact police.”

Grooming gangs came into national focus following the scandal in Rotherham, where an ongoing investigation by the National Crime Agency identified more than 1,500 potential victims.

Trials in that case continue amid numerous criminal investigations into child sexual exploitation across Britain.

Police have warned of the existence of several different “models” of grooming, including online, through personal relationships and using drinks and drugs.

One senior officer previously told The Independent that grooming was taking place “in towns and cities up and down the country”.

Chief constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief’s Council lead for child protection, said much of the current abuse was associated with “county lines” drug dealing, adding: “The ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ are just one model of child sexual exploitation and not the most prolific.”

Investigations have found offenders from a wide range of backgrounds, and not all convicts in high-profile cases have been Asian, while not all of their victims were white.

Police have not given any further information about the identities of the men arrested in Bolton.

The home secretary has launched an inquiry into the potential “cultural drivers” behind grooming gangs.

“We’ve witnessed horrendous abuse perpetrated by gangs who have been persistent and determined in places like Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, Newcastle and Telford,” Sajid Javid said in July. “I will ask difficult questions about the gangs who sexually abuse our children. There will be no no-go areas of inquiry. I will not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it.”

Mr Javid said that perpetrators convicted in high-profile cases have been “disproportionately from a Pakistani background”.

He added: “I have instructed my officials to explore the particular context and characteristics of these types of gangs and if the evidence suggests that there are cultural factors that may be driving this type of offending, then I will take action.”

Anyone with information on child sexual exploitation is asked to call GMP’s specialist team on 0161 856 5757 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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