Raids over child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester

Ten men have been arrested in raids in Greater Manchester and Derbyshire as part of a major investigation into the sexual exploitation of children.

Officers have spoken to more than 30 girls in one of the largest inquiries carried out by Greater Manchester Police's Major Incident Team.

Some are victims and others are witnesses, a police spokesman said.

Girls from Stockport are said to have been given drink and drugs and taken to sex parties in Manchester and Salford.

'Very vulnerable'

"The youngsters themselves are predominantly white girls - as young as 14," Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of Greater Manchester Police said.

"Some are in care and some are still with their families. The majority of them were actually on the street.

Image caption Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said he anticipated further arrests

"They are very vulnerable and they have been approached and befriended by males in the same way that youngsters are befriended by internet paedophiles and other forms of abusers."

Police first received a report from children's services, said Mr Sweeney.

He said the girls were looking for "attention, care and love" but were "manipulated and abused".

There could be more victims in the case, he said.

Mr Sweeney urged anyone who thought they may have been exploited, or anyone else with information, to contact Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Barnado's, Childline or the NSPCC.

More than 100 detectives, supported by officers from the force's Tactical Aid Unit, carried out the raids at 0730 BST.

Men, aged between 18 and 28, were arrested in Cheetham Hill, Fallowfield, Levenshulme, Moss Side, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Woodhouse Park and Salford.

One man was also arrested in Buxton, Derbyshire.

They are all being held on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Mr Sweeney said the raids built on earlier arrests in Rochdale and Bury, following a three to four month police investigation.

He added that he anticipated further arrests.

The girls and their families were being supported by police and social services, he said.

Patrolling hotspots

Mr Sweeney added: "I hope today's action shows people in Greater Manchester that the issue of sexual exploitation is one that we take extremely seriously.

"I want to reassure the people of Greater Manchester that we have a number of operations currently targeting this kind of criminal behaviour.

"This issue is at the top of GMP's priorities."

He urged families to be aware if their daughters were out of contact for long periods of time or had suddenly started receiving unexplained gifts.

Patrols in hotspots for youngsters, including bus and railways stations in the city centre, have been stepped up, he said.

Stuart Bodsworth, Stockport Council's executive member for children and young people, said: "We take any allegations of child sexual exploitation very seriously, and are liaising closely with the police and other agencies to bring to justice anyone who targets vulnerable children and young people in Stockport."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites