‘Operation Shelter’ started in December 2013 after a vulnerable adult and a vulnerable young woman both confided in their social workers that they were being abused.
Every single hotel, guesthouse and taxi firm in Newcastle was visited by Northumbria Police as part of their investigation into the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and young girls.
50 police officers worked on Shelter full time over almost three years.
Operation Shelter was born out of Operation Sanctuary.
What is Operation Sanctuary?
Operation Sanctuary is a bigger wider ranging Northumbria Police investigation looking into allegations of sexual offences and sexual exploitation.
So far Operation Sanctuary has secured 96 convictions against 93 men. They have been sentenced to over 300 years in prison between them.
Northumbria Police say that since the start of Operation Sanctuary, which is still on-going, they have actively been looking for victims to come forward:
Chief Constable Steve Ashman from Northumbria Police says there is still some work to do to protect vulnerable young women and girls in the city of Newcastle:
Could Newcastle City Council have done more?
It’ll look at what lessons can be learnt following the conviction of 18 people for the sexual exploitation of women and girls – all of them vulnerable – who were plied with drink and drugs and then abused.
Two of the first people who came forward with allegations of sexual abuse did so to social services.
Pat Ritchie insists that Newcastle is a ‘safe city’ and that there is no indication that in this case there were any major failing in social services in Newcastle.
She went on to say that they acted as soon as they were approached with the information about alleged abuse.