Three people have been arrested this morning (Friday, May 31) as part of an investigation into the organised sexual exploitation of children in Blackpool.
They were detained in a series of dawn raids at addresses in the town and are currently in custody. They have all been arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault.
Today’s activity is the latest stage of a complex investigation into what officers believe is the co-ordinated and organised grooming and sexual abuse of a group of vulnerable young girls by older men.
Detective Inspector Eric Halford, of West Police, said: “Today’s activity is part of an on-going investigation into the sexual exploitation of young girls. Police say they are determined to protect vulnerable children in Blackpool and elsewhere and to disrupt the harmful activity of groups we identify as grooming and exploiting youngsters.
“I’m grateful for the co-operation and support of the local community and partner agencies during today’s activity. I hope that the public are reassured that when concerns are raised we will take action. I also hope that what we have done today will help encourage anyone who experienced abuse to come forward and speak to us. We will listen to victims and support them as well as bring offenders to justice.”
“Lancashire Constabulary is committed to preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice. It is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere - regardless of their social or ethnic background.
“It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms, whether it occurs through a seemingly 'consensual' relationship with an older boyfriend, or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.
“Sexual exploitation is child abuse and, although they may not realise it, it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
“There are dedicated teams of people working right across Lancashire from many different organisations to help victims escape the cycle of abuse.
“The teams work closely with young people who are being exploited to firstly get them to recognise that they have been, or are being, exploited and to find ways of helping them to break free from the position they find themselves coerced into.
Anyone with concerns about child exploitation should call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.”
Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "Tackling child sexual exploitation and supporting victims of exploitation has been a priority from the start of my role as Police and Crime Commissioner in Lancashire and working with other agencies we will continue to do all we can to ensure that children are protected and pursue and prosecute criminals who exploit them.
"Often young people don’t see themselves as victims and so are less likely to speak to police, but there are dedicated teams of people working right across Lancashire from many different organisations to help victims recognise that they have been, or are being, exploited and to help them escape the cycle of abuse.
"I set up Nest Lancashire to ensure children and young people across the county can access the support they need if they have been a victim of crime or are worried about what is happening to them. Specialist support for victims of child sexual exploitation is an important part of the service."
For more information about CSE and our approach see our website http://socsi.in/zZrD2
Cllr Graham Cain, Deputy Leader - Children, said: “Tackling any form of child exploitation of our children and young people of Blackpool is a high priority for the council.
“The Awaken service which was established more than a decade ago, was one of the first teams in the country to combine the resources of the police, social services and health services to tackle child sexual exploitation. The service now responds to all forms of child exploitation and since it was established hundreds of young people have been identified and protected from harm and offenders brought to justice.
“Children’s Social Care continuously work in partnership with multi-agencies to ensure children and young people are safeguarded and protected. Blackpool will not tolerate Child Exploitation.”
Those arrested are:
1) A 17-year old boy arrested at an address on Clifton Drive
2) A 28-year-old man arrested at an address on Westmorland Avenue
3) A 15-year-old boy arrested at an address on Westmorland Avenue