Lancashire

Blackpool men held over historical child sex abuse

Blackpool Tower
Image caption Police have identified more potential victims as a result of a wide-ranging investigation into child sex exploitation in Blackpool

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of historical child sex offences in Blackpool.

Police said the pair are being held over alleged offences involving two girls aged 14 or 15 in the early 2000s.

The arrests of the men, aged 50 and 39, were made by detectives probing the disappearance and murder of teenager Charlene Downes in 2003 and the wider issue of sex grooming in Blackpool.

Police said they were not "directly connected" to Charlene's disappearance.

However, more potential victims have been identified as a result of a wide-ranging investigation into child sex exploitation at the time, said police.

'Not isolated case'

The 39-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of rape and a serious sexual offence, indecent assault and possession of indecent images of a child while the 50-year-old is in custody on suspicion of indecent assault and taking indecent images of a child.

Charlene was 14 when she was last seen in Blackpool on 1 November 2003 but her body has never been found.

Police believe she was one of a number of girls sexually exploited in the resort at the time she went missing.

A £100,000 reward is on offer for information leading to the conviction of Charlene's killer or the recovery of her body.

Det Supt Andy Webster said: "We remain committed to finding the killer or killers of Charlene and bringing them to justice and we have a team of detectives and staff dedicated solely to this investigation.

He added: "We know Charlene was a victim of sexual abuse before she died and sadly hers was not an isolated case."

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