Operation Sanctuary: Fifty-four arrests in rape plot inquiry

More than 50 people have now been arrested as part of a Northumbria Police investigation into the sexual exploitation of vulnerable females.

Operation Sanctuary has been running for a month and has identified 80 potential victims.

So far, 50 men and two women have been arrested on suspicion of rape.

In addition, one man has been charged with rape and another with two counts of sexual assault. They will appear at Newcastle Crown Court next week.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: "We need the public to assist us with the investigation and I'd urge people to be vigilant and pass on any information they think could help us with our enquiries."

More on This Story

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

BBC Tyne & Wear


Newcastle upon Tyne

Min. Night -1 °C

BBC Local Live

    18:00: Good evening

    That's all from BBC Local Live today. We'll be back from 08:00 on Thursday - possibly even earlier if the weather turns really bad.

    But we leave you with this - Maria Wheatley sent us this photo of the sun setting in Bedlington, Northumberland.

    Sunset in Bedlington

    You can send your pictures by email to northeast.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @BBCNewsNE and we may feature them on BBC Local Live tomorrow.

    17:55: Newcastle United slash young fans' tickets

    Newcastle United have announced a freeze on the price of all season tickets and have cut the cost for young fans.

    St James' Park

    The club said those aged between 18 and 21 will pay £250 next season, down from £300.

    The move was made to make the game "more affordable and reward loyalty", a club statement says.

    17:48: 'Weaknesses have been addressed'

    Durham Free School's chairman of governors John Denning has defended his teachers following a claim by an MP they are "crap".

    He said: "Many of them have come from outstanding schools, some of them are part-time teachers with us and part-time teachers in other outstanding schools."

    He admitted there had been weaknesses at the school, but said they had been addressed. The Ofsted report found leadership, teaching, pupil behaviour and achievement were "inadequate" and said the school should be put in special measures.

    17:39: Jobs at risk as Tesco shuts store Hartlepool Mail

    Eighteen jobs are under threat with the closure of a Hartlepool store.

    Tesco's York Road Express store is one of 43 outlets nationwide facing the axe, putting more than 2,000 jobs at risk. The firm announced earlier this month that it was closing 'unprofitable' stores nationwide.

    17:29: Ten charged over £8m drug raids

    Ten people have been charged after drugs with a street value of £8m were seized by police in Gateshead.

    It follows a number of raids in October where drugs including cocaine, heroin, and amphetamine were recovered, along with £110,000 in cash.

    Five men aged 25, 27, 29, 31, 44 and one woman aged 43, all from the Gateshead area, have been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs and money laundering offences. Three men aged 31, 37 and 50, all from Liverpool, have also been charged with the same offences.

    A 41-year-old man from Gateshead has been charged with possession of amphetamine with intent to supply. All 10 will appear at Gateshead Magistrates' Court on February 26.

    17:16: River safety review after student death

    Riverside safety is being reviewed after the death of a Durham University student.

    Euan Coulthard, 19, of Bottesford, Leicestershire, disappeared after a night out in Durham on 14 January. His body was found in the River Wear a week later.

    Euan Coulthard

    Durham Police say there is nothing suspicious about his death. A safety review will now be led by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

    17:07: Share your views

    We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    17:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 17:00 include:

    16:52: Camilla visits Newcastle cancer centre

    The Duchess of Cornwall was in Newcastle today to visit the Maggie's cancer centre in the grounds of the Freeman Hospital.

    Duchess of Cornwall in Newcastle

    She met staff and visitors, including men from the Monday Morning for Men group, and NHS workers from the Freeman Hospital. She also took a tour of the building.

    Last year, Maggie's Newcastle saw more than 16,000 visits to its centre of which 6,000 were men. Camilla became president of the charity in 2008.

    16:40: Incident 'not an abduction bid'

    We've just received this statement from Cleveland Police: "Following a report of an incident in which an 11-year-old girl was approached by a man in a car in Guisborough, police can confirm that the incident is no longer being treated as suspicious or as an attempted abduction.

    "Members of the public in the local area can be reassured that the investigation has now concluded."

    16:30: Police reopen 50 'no crime' rape cases BBC Tees

    Cleveland Police is reopening almost 50 rape cases originally recorded as "no crime".

    An inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary identified 12 cases between November 2012 and October 2013.

    Another 37 were discovered by the force following its own review from cases going back to 2010. A specialist team has now been set up to investigate and will offer support to victims.

    16:22: Driver banned for 107mph chase The Gazette
    16:09: FA Trophy match rescheduled Matthew Raisbeck BBC Newcastle

    The FA Trophy replay between Gateshead and Wrexham has been rescheduled for next Tuesday at the International Stadium.

    15:59: News on the hour
    15:49: Live grenade found in Teesside

    A controlled explosion is due to take place after a live grenade was found in a home in Marske, Teesside.

    Vicarage Drive is cordoned off after an old grenade was discovered and the police were called at about 13:00

    A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: "Police are on their way to detonate the device which was found in a house. The grenade was found in the property during a house clearing. A controlled explosion will take place."

    15:41: Man admits chicken throwing

    A man has admitted throwing a live chicken into the McDonald's restaurant in Billingham, the RSPCA says.

    An RSPCA officer will be speaking to him this afternoon.

    The chicken, now named Nugget, has been rehomed by RSPCA officer Ron Crawford, who owns a flock of the birds.

    A chicken that was thrown through McDonald's
    15:31: Forshaw signs for Boro

    Middlesbrough have completed the signing of midfielder Adam Forshaw from Wigan.

    Adam Forshaw
    15:14: Thousands of chickens killed in fire

    About 13,000 chickens died when a fire broke out in a shed in North Yorkshire.

    North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said firefighters were called to the scene at Faceby, between Northallerton and Middlesbrough, at about 01:20.

    Fire crews from Stokesley, Northallerton, Coulby Newham, Yarm and Middlesbrough helped tackle the fire.

    A fire service spokesman said an investigation is due to be carried out later, but the fire is believed to have started accidentally.

    15:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 15:00 include:

    14:41: 'Second chicken' thrown into McDonald's Lisa McCormick BBC Tees

    On Neil Green's show this afternoon, hear from a woman who saw a second live chicken thrown into a different McDonald's on Teesside.

    A live bird was thrown through the drive-through serving hatch of a McDonalds at Wolviston near Billingham yesterday. But it's also now emerged a second incident happened at the drive-through in Portrack Lane on Monday.

    Helen Laville was there with her daughter - click here to hear from her after 16:00.

    14:25: Plea from 'stretched' lifeboat crews

    Volunteers manning busy rescue lifeboats in the North of England are urging seafarers to take more steps to be safe.

    The RNLI revealed it was called out more than 1,000 times last year. But many rescues could have been avoided if people had taken basic precautions and sailors had made sure they had enough fuel, and ensured their boats weren't faulty.

    RNLI lifeboat crew

    Machinery failure was the most common cause of rescue - 23% of the total compared with just 13% when swimmers were in danger of drowning.

    An RNLI spokesman said: "Checking a boat's engine and fuel before setting out to sea could prevent the cause of our most common rescue, machinery failure."

    14:09: More on chicken thrown into McDonald's

    RSPCA deputy chief inspector John Lawson has issued a statement after a live chicken was thrown into a McDonald's drive-through in Billingham.

    He said: "My colleague Ron Crawford went along and collected her. Fortunately she wasn't injured and is now being cared for by the RSPCA.

    "We would like to discourage people from repeating such pranks. Chickens are protected animals under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and subjecting them to pranks such as this could be an offence."

    It's believed a group of youths paid for some food but instead of collecting it threw the chicken through the serving hatch. Anyone with information should call the RSPCA's appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

    13:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 14:00 include:

    13:51: Boba Fett figure sells for £18,000
    13:41: Live chicken 'thrown into McDonald's'

    A rather strange story to bring you now - A live chicken has been thrown through the serving hatch at a McDonald's drive-through in Teesside, the RSPCA says.

    The incident happened yesterday at the takeaway at Wolviston service station near Billingham. The RSPCA was called by staff and the chicken was collected by an animal welfare officer. She is now in RSPCA care.

    A chicken that was thrown through McDonald's
    13:30: 'Crap teachers' comment criticised

    Durham Free School's chairman of governors says comments by North West Durham Labour MP Pat Glass that it is "a haven for every crap teacher in the North East" are "very disappointing".

    John Denning says staff are "highly skilled individuals who have been frankly slandered in the Houses of Parliament under the protection of parliamentary privilege".

    He adds: "None of our teachers that are in the school have left other jobs because of being incompetent."

    Durham free School
    13:18: Heed's trophy match off Matthew Raisbeck BBC Newcastle

    Gateshead FC's FA Trophy replay with Wrexham has been postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

    13:07: Man jailed for train bomb threat

    A Northumberland man has been jailed for saying he had a bomb and would blow up a commuter train.

    Charles Crisp, 54, caused an evacuation of the train at Newport railway station after a fellow passenger heard him talking about detonating the device.

    Crisp, of Alnwick, admitted communicating false information with intent and was given a three-month sentence. Newport Crown Court heard Crisp was arrested and found to be unarmed.

    Prosecutor John Lloyd said: "In a controlled voice, Crisp said, 'I've got a bomb and I'm going to blow everyone up.'"

    12:56: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 13:00 include:

    12:45: Three NE Tesco stores to close Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    Tesco is informing staff at 43 stores today that their shops will close. These include the Express store in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, and the one in York Road, Hartlepool, as well as the Superstore in Bedlington.

    In total 2,000 staff are affected. Express and Home Plus stores will close on 15 March. Metros and Superstores will close on 4 April.

    Tesco warned earlier this month that 43 stores would be shut as part of plans to cut costs.

    12:34: Is the Force with this toy? Jonathan Swingler BBC Tees

    They reckon this Star Wars figure could go for £15,000 at auction this lunchtime. Watch Look North at 13:00 on BBC One.

    Star Wars figure
    12:23: First snow flurries hit Tyneside

    The first of the forecasted snow flurries have begun on Tyneside with Newcastle's Town Moor getting a light covering of flakes.

    Town Moor

    However, Teessiders have yet to be affected where it is still cold and bright. Forecasters are predicting an afternoon and evening of between 3cm and 8cm of snow throughout the region, as well as very gusty winds.

    The gales could lead to drifting and temporary blizzards over high ground, while icy surfaces and lightning pose additional risks in some areas. Check the forecast where you are.

    12:13: Amber warning over snow

    The Met Office has issued an amber warning for snow in the North East from 17:00 to 11:00 tomorrow.

    Northumbria Police is reminding people to take precautions against the expected bad weather.

    12:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 12:00 include:

    11:45: Gillespie thrilled by double signing

    Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie says the club are delighted to have landed Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell.

    He said: "I spoke to Glenn a little while ago and just enquired as to whether he would be interested in representing Yorkshire and outlined how well he could fit into the dressing room, and the role we wanted him to play.

    "Aaron is a great leader, he has a lot of leadership and captaincy experience and having a player like that in the dressing room gives the younger players the opportunity to learn off him."

    Records of Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell
    11:34: North music and comedy highlights

    The North of England will be the host of some of the cultural highlights of this year, a BBC chief says.

    Director of England Peter Salmon says he is proud the region is leading the way after he announced BBC Radio 6 Music was decanting to Tyneside for its annual festival. Headliners will include Maximo Park.

    Maximo Park's Paul Smith

    Mr Salmon also said new North East talent such as Elliot Kerrigan will be getting their breaks this spring with Boy Meets Girl, BBC Two's newest sitcom series, written and created by Elliot, being shot on location in Newcastle.

    Other highlights include BBC Radio 4's Home Front series, a World War One drama set in Tynemouth and North Shields.

    11:23: 1970s office block gets listed status

    More than a dozen post-World War Two office buildings have been given Grade II listed status.

    The move to give legal protection to 14 "remarkable" office blocks in English towns and cities comes after a project by heritage body English Heritage to assess commercial buildings dating from 1964 to 1984.

    MEA House, Newcastle

    The list includes MEA House, in Newcastle, which was built to house voluntary organisations in the early 1970s. Ahead of its time, it doesn't have columns - instead building slabs are suspended from deep beams.

    11:12: Boro cup match date revealed

    Middlesbrough's FA Cup clash against Arsenal will be on Sunday 15 February at 16:00, with the match shown live on BT Sport 1.

    Boro beat Man City 2-0 in the last round with goals from Patrick Bamford and substitute Kike.

    11:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 11:00 include:

    10:53: Shock over barman's death Hartlepool Mail
    10:45: Yorkshire sign Australian pair

    Yorkshire have signed Australia internationals Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell for the 2015 county season.

    Batsman Finch, 28, spent part of last season with the White Rose county and will return after his Indian Premier League commitments end in May.

    Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell

    Finch will be available for all formats of the game, but all-rounder Maxwell, 26, who also has an IPL contract, will only feature in the T20 Blast.

    Both players are in Australia's World Cup squad for next month's tournament.

    10:34: Firearm arrest after city bomb scare

    Police have got back to us over a man and woman arrested in connection with a bomb scare in Newcastle.

    Northumbria Police has now confirmed that a 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and a woman in her 30s is being held on suspicion of handling stolen goods. Both suspects are still in custody.

    Ouston Street

    It comes after residents in Ouston Street were evacuated from their homes just after 17:30 yesterday and explosives experts were called, but police say they found nothing suspicious.

    10:24: 'Parents deserve better' Luke Walton Political Reporter

    The Chief Inspector of Schools says two heavily-criticised Durham schools were doing badly and that parents "deserve better".

    Sir Michael Wilshaw is facing questions from MPs over scathing reports into Sunderland's Grindon Hall Christian School and Durham Free School, which were both rated inadequate following inspections in November.

    In evidence to the Commons Education Committee, he denied allegations that inspectors asked inappropriate questions of pupils, calling those claims false.

    10:11: Arrests as package sparks 'bomb scare' Julie Cush BBC News

    A man and a woman have been arrested after a suspicious package in Newcastle sparked a bomb scare.

    Residents in Ouston Street were evacuated from their homes just after 17:30 yesterday and explosives experts were called, but police say they found nothing suspicious.

    A cordon was put in place but residents were later allowed back home. We have asked police what alleged offence the 31-year-old man and the woman in her 30s were arrested over, and we're waiting for them to get back to us.

    10:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 10:00 include:

    09:56: Three-car crash sparks 'gridlock'

    A three-vehicle smash in Derwent Road in Gateshead is causing traffic chaos in the town.

    Motorists are reporting waiting in jams for up to 20 minutes in Gateshead town centre.

    Get the latest travel news for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

    09:47: Via Twitter Stephanie McGovern BBC presenter & School Report mentor

    tweets: Morning from the Port of Tyne - where today I'm talking about exports. #economy

    09:36: Bridge shut to lorries amid disruption

    The Redheugh Bridge in Newcastle has been shut to high-sided vehicles because of high winds

    Traffic is also making slow progress between the Alexandra Road in Sunderland on the A183.

    Get the latest travel news for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

    09:24: Cap on spiralling elderly care fees

    From April 2016, the amount you pay for care if you are over 65 is being capped at £72,000.

    To be eligible, you first need to be assessed by your council as having very high need. Care provided in your home or in a residential home counts towards the cap, but only at the rate set by the council.

    With the spiralling ageing population, councils are under increasing pressure. For example Newcastle Council pays £604.57 per week on each person in care and £180.56 a week to look after people in their own homes.

    Enter your postcode and find out how you local council pays for care of the elderly.

    09:11: Council spending on elderly care falls

    There has been a 22% fall in the last decade in the amount of money North East councils spent on providing social care for people aged 65 and over, new figures show.

    The data comes from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, and analysis by the BBC shows the impact over 10 years of funding being squeezed whilst the numbers of elderly people has increased.

    In our region, spending per head in 2003-04 was £1,374, but that had fallen to £1,076 by 2013-14 - a drop of £298 or 22%. The BBC has launched an online guide to the care system for the over-65s.

    Elderly care photo
    08:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 09:00 include:

    08:52: Give us your feedback

    What do you think of BBC Local Live? It's written by reporters across the North East and brings you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. We'd like your feedback about this service.

    08:41: Free school 'haven for crap teachers'

    North West Durham Labour MP Pat Glass says she has been told a free school had become "a haven for every crap teacher in the North East".

    A critical Ofsted report found leadership, teaching, pupil behaviour and achievement at Durham Free School were "inadequate" and said the school should be put in special measures.

    Speaking in Parliament during a short debate, Education Select Committee member Ms Glass said: "There are many good teachers at that school ... but as a former senior education officer in the North East, I was aware that there were very high levels of teachers working at the Durham Free School that I knew had already been through competency procedures with other local authorities.

    "A head teacher in the region told me that the school had become a haven for every crap teacher in the North East. I'm sorry if that's unparliamentary language but that was what he said to me."

    08:30: Work 'set to start on Vaux site' Sunderland Echo
    08:13: Heavy rain making way for snow Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    Outbreaks of heavy rain will turn to snow over hills. It will brighten up with sunny spells developing but turning much colder with blustery winds and scattered snow showers - between 3cm to 5cm (1in to 2in) are expected to fall across the North of England.

    Kay Crewdson

    Gusty winds will lead to drifting and temporary blizzards over high ground, while icy surfaces and lightning pose additional risks in some areas. Check the forecast where you are.

    08:07: Problems on the A19

    There's very slow traffic running at 10mph on the A19 southbound between the A689 junction in Wolviston and Portrack Interchange in Stockton.

    And in Sunderland, and A19 is partially blocked northbound at Testo's Roundabout because of a broken down lorry. So problems in both directions.

    Get the latest travel news for Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

    08:00: Good morning Julie Cush BBC News

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • The AmericansThe good guys?

    A US TV show examining the Cold War is offering a radical revision of history, writes Eric Kohn


  • Virtual courtroomClick Watch

    The 'forensic holodeck’ system that recreates crime scenes as 3D virtual worlds

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.