Man held in Torbay child sex abuse inquiry

Parent with letter
Image caption Letters have been sent out to thousands of parents who have school-age children in the Torbay area

Police investigating alleged sexual abuse of young people in a Devon resort have arrested a 19-year-old man.

Officers told a news conference in Torbay the alleged abuse involved children aged 12 and upwards and 20 children had been interviewed.

Police said the offences include indecent assault and rape over two to three years and the victims were known to the offenders.

They said there could be more arrests in the fast-moving investigation.

Det Insp Simon Snell said: "Children are completely safe to walk the streets of Torbay. They are not being grabbed off the streets."

Fifty officers are investigating the abuse allegations.

The arrested man, from the Torbay area, is being held at Torquay police station.

Each offence had taken place in the Torbay area and none had taken place in a school.

The offences came to light after agencies involved in child care alerted police.

Eight social workers are supporting the children who have been interviewed. No children have been taken into care, although two were already in care.

Det Insp Snell said: "We are looking at other people and other arrests may follow in the coming days and weeks.

"The abuse could have been taking place over two or three years."

A letter designed to reassure parents has been sent to those with children attending secondary schools in the Torbay and Teignbridge areas.

A teacher at one secondary school in the area, who declined to be named, said: "We've spoken to a couple of parents who phoned in this morning, but that was because they hadn't received the letter, which they have now.

"We'll reassure any parents that need reassuring and provide all the support we can."

Anyone with any concerns around child exploitation in Torbay is advised to call the police on 08452 777444 and quote Operation Mansfield.

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