Eleven arrested in ongoing child sexual exploitation probe across South West

Eleven people have been arrested in connection with an investigation into child sexual exploitation in the South West.

The arrests were carried out at properties in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.

Ten of those arrested, males aged between 17 and 33, have been arrested on suspicion of an exploitation-related offence. The other suspect was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a class A drug, Avon and Somerset Police say.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Jess Aston of Avon and Somerset Police said: “Today’s arrests are a significant moment in a serious and complex investigation.

If you've been impacted by any of the issues raised in this article, visit our advice and support page for more information on organisations which can help you.

“Although we remain in the early stages, we believe a number of children, aged in their mid to late teens, are victims of sexual exploitation and our priority is to identify and safeguard them, which we’ll do at pace alongside our partner agencies.

“Officers and staff with Topaz, our child sexual exploitation disruption team, as well as our intelligence team, have been instrumental in carrying out the enquiries resulting in us reaching this arrest phase.

“Child sexual exploitation can be a hidden crime, but we will continue to identify and support victims of these offences through a multi-agency response, as well as proactively seek out and disrupt offenders.

“Our Neighbourhood Policing teams will be carrying out engagement and reassurance work with our community stakeholders, and we’d encourage anyone with concerns to contact their local team direct.

“Due to arrests taking place across Bristol, our Child Sexual Prevention Officer Andri Nicolaou and officers with the Neighbourhood Policing team, have also set up a stall in Broadmead, which will be in place throughout today, to allow more direct engagement and awareness work around exploitation to take place, especially with young people.”

Details or charities and organisations with expertise in supporting victims of child sexual exploitation can be found at Support for victims of child sexual exploitation | Avon and Somerset Police.