Eight men were today arrested during a series of dawn raids by police investigating child sexual exploitation. The victim was sexually abused by a group of men from the age of 12 between 2007 and 2011. The men - aged between 20 and 28 - have been held on suspicion of sexual offences after the operation was carried out in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Thames Valley Police say they fear other victims may have fallen prey to the same group and have urged others to come forward. Around 100 officers raided ten addresses this morning arresting the men who were aged 20, three aged 21, two aged 22, one aged 26 and one aged 28.
Raids: Thames Valley Police swooped on ten addresses in the High Wycombe area of Buckinghamshire early this morning to arrest eight men on suspicion of child sexual exploitation
The ethnicity of the victim or her abusers has not been revealed. Detective Chief Inspector Vince Grey said: 'In terms of child exploitation, the general premise is there will be a number of victims. 'With this particular victim, she’s mainly discussed actions involving herself, not going into any great details in terms of other persons, but we believe in terms of what she told us that there will be other victims.' DCI Grey praised the girl, who is under 18, for having the courage to speak to police. 'She’s been extremely brave and courageous in coming forward in the first place - obviously we can’t imagine what she and other victims have gone through. She’s come forward and she’s indicated what offending has happened to her, who’s been involved in that, and over what time period.'
Action: Around 100 officers took part in the raids as part of Operation Ribbon - an ongoing investigation into child sex exploitation
The force believes that victims may have been groomed - when abusers make friends with potential victims - by members of the gang. 'You enter the grooming stage first, obviously grooming is a specific offence,' said DCI Grey. 'One stream can develop into where we are now, when that process has taken place and that turns into an abusive relationship of some sort, which can lead to much more damaging exploitation and sexual offences taking place.' The suspects were identified from the girl’s account along with additional investigation, Mr Grey said.
Crackdown: Superintendent Gilbert Houalla, area commander for Wycombe, delivers a pre-operation briefing for Operation Ribbon before officers head out
Warning: Residents in High Wycombe were given this letter from police telling them about the sex abuse gang arrests
The force said officers arrested eight men aged between 20 and 28 - one aged 20, three aged 21, two aged 22, one aged 26 and one aged 28. They were all held on suspicion of committing sexual offences against a girl. DCI Grey said: 'We will not tolerate child exploitation in Thames Valley and today’s warrants are part of a lengthy investigation spanning many months. We believe that it is likely that there are more victims who have not yet spoken to the police and would like to encourage anyone who is a victim to come forward and speak to us on 01296 396396. I can offer the reassurance that we have support networks in place and will deal with each case with respect and confidentiality. Our number one priority is to protect the victims, both their identities and well-being in such cases.'
Source: Daily Mail UK