UK sex trafficking gang convicted

  • 10/08/2017
UK police car siren
Some victims were so inebriated they were abused while unconscious. Photo credit: Getty

A gang of 18 people has been found guilty of trafficking and sexually abusing vulnerable teenage girls and young women for several years in northern England, prosecutors say, in the latest shocking case of its kind in Britain.

The men raped or assaulted the victims after drugging them or threatening them with violence at specially-convened "parties" - often referred to as "sessions" - where they were supplied with drugs and alcohol.

Some were so inebriated they were abused while unconscious.

The offenders were predominantly Asian and aged in their 30s and 40s, raising echoes of a number of similar cases in Britain which led to accusations the authorities had feared to get involved in case they were accused of racism.

"There has been no political correctness here," said Northumbria police Chief Constable Steve Ashman. "These are criminals and there has been no hesitation in arresting them and targeting them using all the means at our disposal."

Prosecutors said the gang, 17 men and one woman, had targeted 13 white girls and women, aged from 15 to their early 20s, in Newcastle between 2010 and 2014.

The offenders were found guilty following four trials, the last of which concluded on Tuesday. Three have been jailed and the others are awaiting sentence.

Mr Ashman said the wider police investigation into sexual exploitation in the area, known as Operation Sanctuary, was the largest and most intricate operation his force had ever undertaken. In total 700 victims have been found, 461 people arrested, leading to 93 convictions, he said.

"Most of the offenders are not white. They are from a really diverse section so we have people from Bangladesh, from Pakistan, from Iran, from Iraq, people who are Kurdish, Turkish, Albanian, eastern European," he said.

Mr Ashman also defended the decision, heavily criticised by a child protection charity, to pay a convicted child rapist about £10,000 to act as an informant, saying he had helped police to prevent and detect serious crimes.