Eleven people have been arrested under Operation Heliodor, in a crackdown on child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the South Manchester area.
Op Heliodor, which was launched to combat CSE, is part of Project Phoenix - the multi-agency campaign tackling CSE across Greater Manchester.
Six warrants have been executed and eleven people aged between 19 and 38 have been arrested for offences including; sexual activity with a child, attempted indecent assault, inciting a child into prostitution, abduction and rape.
The arrests came after months of intervention by the Protect team, into the sexual exploitation of girls and its links to organised crime in and around the Longsight area, and other areas within Greater Manchester.
The team is made up of police, children’s services, health services, and Barnardos and covers Salford and Manchester area.
Detective Inspector Debbie Oakes of the Greater Manchester Police’s Protect Team, said:
“Tackling child sexual exploitation and those responsible for such heinous crimes is an absolute priority for us.
“I want to assure our communities that combatting CSE is a Force priority for GMP and we would encourage anyone who is a victim of this kind of abuse to come to either us, a family member or the charities and support agencies who are out there and help us bring the offenders to justice.
“The Protect Team provides a holistic approach to CSE, along with effective disruption tactics to identified perpetrators linked to children at risk of CSE.
“We have forged strong links with our partner agencies, including Barnardo's and NSPCC, and by effective safeguarding and partnership disruption of perpetrators, we can tackle this problem head on.
“We listen to the children and put them at the heart of our investigations and tactics, to ensure their safety and wellbeing is at the forefront of everything we do.
“Operation Heliodor is ongoing and, with this collaborative approach we will continue to target those involved in CSE. I fully anticipate more warrants and arrests as we continue in our investigation.”
Lynn Perry MBE, Regional Director for Barnardo’s in the West said:
“We are pleased to be at the heart of an inter-agency partnership in Greater Manchester tackling child sexual exploitation; supporting and enabling young people to speak out and providing child victims of sexual exploitation with appropriate, long term support.”
The arrests came after a week of action to help prevent child sexual exploitation and raise awareness of the issue in Greater Manchester and the launch of the campaign – “It’s not Okay” The campaign hopes to protect children at risk by increasing people’s understanding of child sexual exploitation and how to spot the warning signs of CSE.
Please visit www.itsnotokay.co.uk for information for children, young people, parents, carers and professionals on how to spot the signs of child sex exploitation and what to do about it.
To speak to the Protect team email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 226 4196.
Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person should call Greater Manchester Police on 101 or 999 in emergencies, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
For more information about Barnardo’s visit www.barnardos.org.uk.
If you are a child and you want to speak to someone in confidence about any issue that is upsetting you, you can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or go to www.childline.org.uk to chat to a counsellor in confidence.
If you are an adult and you have concerns about a child you can speak to the NSPCC adult helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com