Police swoop on 22 child sex suspects

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Seven men from Preston and one from Chorley were among 22 arrests made by police during a week-long a crackdown on child sexual exploitation in Lancashire.

Officers swooped on dozens of addresses during the county-wide campaign aimed at raising awareness of sexual abuse and grooming.

One of the men, a 29-year-old from Preston, has been charged with rape, sexual assault, possessing indecent images and engaging in sexual activity with a girl over 13.

The rest were all arrested on charges of possessing indecent images of children and were bailed pending further enquiries. They range in age from 17 to 67.

Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit said: “This week we have executed a number of warrants around the county which has resulted in the arrest of 22 people who we believe have been involved in various offences relating the exploitation and abuse of children.

“The operation, along with all the other multi-agency activities that have taken place this week, clearly demonstrate our ability and intention to tackle child sexual exploitation. I am confident that the awareness week has highlighted the work currently undertaken to tackle the issue and that our approach is a long term one with important work happening each and every day.

“Tackling child sexual exploitation is extremely important for the constabulary and we are committed to preventing child sexual abuse, supporting victims and bringing those responsible to justice.”

Police are encouraging anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, sexually abused, groomed or exploited to come forward and contact them on 101, confident in the knowledge they will be dealt with sensitively and professionally.

Amongst the other arrests were a 26-year-old from the Ribble Valley, five from Blackpool and six from East Lancashire. During the crackdown more than 140 hotspots were targeted across the county, including amusement arcades, fast food restaurants, bus and train stations.