A meticulous investigation by North Yorkshire Police into Child Sexual Exploitation has seen ten men jailed for a total of 34 years and four months, one man is awaiting sentence and a number of others have been cautioned or given a community sentence.
The enquiry identified 30 suspects – none of them knew each other – who groomed a 13-year-old girl over the internet for their own sexual gratification.
The investigation began when the victim’s mother contacted the police and handed over her daughter’s mobile phone as she was concerned about the interaction she had had with a number of older men and was the subject of serious sexual offences.
The mobile phone was used by Police as the catalyst to the enquiry.
The offences which were uncovered by the investigation ranged in seriousness from possessing indecent images to sexual activity with a child.
When the scale of the offending became apparent, North Yorkshire Police launched a major investigation with the overriding aim of safeguarding the victim and others whilst bringing the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible.
The offenders lived in various parts of the UK and were aged between 20 and 45 along with a 14-year-old boy.
During the course of the investigation, other victims were identified and some defendants were charged in relation to offences committed against these victims.
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason who is the head of crime at North Yorkshire Police, said:
This investigation uncovered large-scale exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of several men, some of whom were married and had successful careers.
Although some of the suspects ceased all contact with the girl when they discovered her age, many didn’t and they have been punished appropriately for their crimes.
The scale of the data analysed to reach such a conclusion is matched only by the determination and dedication of the investigation team and our safeguarding partners all of whom acted in close partnership I am very proud of their efforts in what was a difficult investigation.
We all have a responsibility to ensure our children are safe and to that end North Yorkshire Police works with numerous agencies to educate professionals, parents and children to safeguard children from harm.
If you are concerned that your child or a child you have contact with is being exploited, please call the police on 101, or call 999 in an emergency.
You can also obtain advice from the following organisations:
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) www.ceop.police.uk 0870 000 3344
- NSPCC 0808 800 5000
- Childline 0800 1111
- Barnados 0208 550 8822
- Parents Against Child Exploitation www.PACEUK.info
The signs to look out for are:
- Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
- Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
- Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for.
- Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
- Appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Being picked up or dropped off in cars by unknown adults
- A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
- Spending excessive amount of time online and becoming increasingly secretive about time spent online
- Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
- Sexual health problems