LONDON—Detectives in the United Kingdom have arrested 55 men over historic child sexual abuse.
All the men were interviewed and released under investigation, according to detectives in West Yorkshire.
The allegations were made by seven women in connection with sexual abuse against them as children between 2002 and 2009. The men are from Dewsbury, Batley, and Bradford in the north of the UK.
Detective Inspector Ian Thornes said, “This investigation demonstrates the force’s ongoing commitment to the investigation of both current and non-recent sexual offenses against children.
“Child sexual abuse and exploitation is an abhorrent and heinous crime and one which affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
He said the police work closely with local authorities, charities, and other organizations to “bring the perpetrators to justice and make our communities safer.”
Police urged any victims of sexual abuse, recently or not, to report it to the authorities.
“Please be assured that you will be listened to, taken seriously, and supported by professionals with experience of dealing with these kind of offenses,” he said.
Grooming Gangs ‘Still Operating’
Investigators warned in 2017 that child exploitation was still in operation across the country.
“I think there’s every likelihood that this is happening in every town and city across the country,” chief constable Steve Ashman of Northumbria Police told The Independent.
Last August, 30 men and one woman were charged with sexual exploitation in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The suspects were charged with abusing five girls under the age of 18 over a period of seven years, between 2005 and 2012. Charges included rape, trafficking, and sexual exploitation. The alleged victims were between the ages of 12 and 18.
In March 2018, seven men were convicted of abusing young girls in Oxford. The gang frequently abused girls aged between 13 and 15, the court heard.
A number of grooming gangs have been exposed in the UK in recent years; one of the most prominent cases is in Rotherham.
A 2014 investigation found there were 1,400 sex abuse victims in the town between 1997 and 2013.
“The men would ply the girls with drugs and alcohol, and threatened them with violence or being transported and abandoned in an unfamiliar location if they didn’t comply with the sexual demands,” said the National Crime Agency in a statement.
“The girls said that the abuse was mainly carried out at night in a variety of secluded or derelict locations, including empty houses where there was no electricity. They were often sexually abused on mattresses on the floor and locked in rooms so that they couldn’t escape.”
The largely Pakistani and South Asian backgrounds of the men has proven controversial.
Local Rotherham lawmaker Sarah Champion resigned from her position as lead on equalities in the opposition Labour Party after being criticized for an article she wrote on the scandal.
“Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls,” she wrote in the article in The Sun.
A 2015 government-commissioned report into the abuses said: “Children were sexually exploited by men who came largely from the Pakistani heritage community. Not enough was done to acknowledge this, to stop it happening, to protect children, to support victims, and to apprehend perpetrators.
“The council’s culture is unhealthy: bullying, sexism, suppression, and misplaced ‘political correctness’ have cemented its failures,” the report said.
Epoch Times staff John Smithies and Simon Veazey contributed to this report