Police probe at least 54 more evil child sex grooming gangs
Officers are preparing to bust the biggest paedophile network ever seen in the country, with police set to swoop within days
At least 54 evil child grooming gangs are being investigated by police.
It comes as officers in the North of England are preparing to bust the biggest paedophile network ever seen in the country, with police set to swoop within days.
Our disturbing figures can be revealed after reporters contacted every force across England and Wales, but the true number is likely to be much higher as many failed, or refused, to reply.
Child exploitation came into focus this week when seven paedophiles were convicted of sexually torturing girls as young as 11 in Oxford.
Thames Valley Police missed several opportunities to rescue the girls from the abuse over six years.
The same force has now revealed it is investigating 14 more networks – with some gangs even using women to help groom the youngsters.
Chief constable Sara Thornton said: “We are looking at double figures for the number of suspects.”
She went on: “I think the vast majority are men but there are a couple of women who might have been facilitating exploitation.”
As a result of our inquiries, police chiefs admitted to at least 54 investigations.
Out of 43 forces in England and Wales, 31 responded to our request for information.
Seventeen said they had ongoing probes, including Merseyside, which would only say it was investigating a “number” of grooming rings.
Three – Staffordshire, Norfolk and Humberside – refused to tell us how many investigations they had, and 12 did not get back to us.
At 14, Thames Valley has the largest number of probes, followed by six in Lancashire – where one of the worst paedophile gangs was caught in Rochdale last year.
Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester said they were looking into five alleged sex cells each.
Steve Heywood, chief constable at Greater Manchester, admitted child exploitation was now the force’s “number one priority”.
The Met Police in London said its officers were probing four gangs.
Three probes are active in South Yorkshire, Northants and Suffolk.
There are two each in Surrey, Northumbria and West Yorkshire. South Wales, Kent, West Mercia, Devon and Cornwall and Cambridgeshire each have one investigation.
Staffordshire, Humberside and Norfolk would not say how many investigations they had.
West Midlands, Sussex, Wiltshire, North Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Hampshire, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cheshire, Cleveland, Dorset and Dyfed Powys did not reply
There are no investigations in Derbyshire, Warwickshire, North Wales, Hertfordshire, Gwent, Cumbria, Durham, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Essex.
The figures come as 10 men are preparing to stand trial this week accused of exploiting a girl over a four-year period in High Wycombe, Bucks.
All deny the charges.
Last month we revealed six men were held in Peterborough, Cambs, in a new case with potentially the biggest number of victims by one gang.
It is one in a worrying string of already known child sex cases.
Earlier this year seven men were charged in Newham, East London, for allegedly raping a vulnerable girl who was under 16.
And five men were charged with rape in Stockport, Greater Manchester, last year after a probe showed they had 39 potential victims.
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