News

Police investigation into allegations of sexual assaults

27 Jan 2014 00:00 AM

Operation Sanctuary [View Full Size]

Northumbria Police has launched an investigation called “Operation Sanctuary” following information about a series of sexual assaults involving a number of men from a range of communities and female victims.

A dedicated team of specialist officers has been set up and, as part of the investigation, searches are being carried out on properties, predominantly in Newcastle, but also in other locations across the force area. 

Update 30/01/14 3pm

Police have now made a further arrest bringing the total to 27 in connection with Operation Sanctuary and police have searched 27 properties.

The activity comes as investigations continue into alleged sexual assaults on teenage girls and young adult women by a number of men from a range of communities.

The victims in these cases are continuing to be safeguarded. Police are urging anyone who knows a victim or believes they've been a victim themselves to come forward.

People can contact police on 101 or speak to their local neighbourhood officers who are out and about patrolling in the area or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Advice and support is also available via Victim Support on 0845 277 0977 or Childline on 0800 1111.

Update: 29/01/13 12.30pm

A further three addresses have been searched in Newcastle and South Tyneside today and four men arrested in connection with Operation Sanctuary.

The arrests are on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

Those arrested yesterday have been bailed.

The activity comes as investigations continue into alleged sexual assaults on teenage girls and young adult women by a number of men from a range of communities.

The victims in these cases are continuing to be safeguarded. Police are urging anyone who knows a victim or believes they've been a victim themselves to come forward.

People can contact police on 101 or speak to their local neighbourhood officers who are out and about patrolling in the area or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Advice and support is also available via Victim Support on 0845 277 0977 or Childline on 0800 1111.

Update: 28/01/2014 5:15pm

This is an update in relation to Northumbria Police investigation Operation Sanctuary.

A further three men have been arrested since this morning (Tue Jan 28).

The total number of people arrested so far is 21 (19 men and two women), all on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

The activity comes as investigations continue into alleged sexual assaults on teenage girls and young adult women by a number of men from a range of communities.

The victims in these cases are continuing to be safeguarded. Police are urging anyone who knows a victim or believes they've been a victim themselves to come forward.

People can contact police on 101 or speak to their local neighbourhood officers who are out and about patrolling in the area or call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Advice and support is also available via Victim Support on 0845 277 0977 or Childline on 0800 1111.

Update: 28/01/2014

A further three men have been arrested and five properties searched as part of the Northumbria Police investigation Operation Sanctuary.

The total number of people arrested so far is 18 (16 men and two women), all on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

Of those arrested yesterday, all 15 people (13 men and two women) have been bailed pending further enquiries.

Teams of officers have carried out searches today at addresses in parts of Newcastle, as well as properties in the Gateshead area.

The searches come as investigations continue into alleged sexual assaults on teenage girls and young adult women by a number of men from a range of communities.

The victims in these cases are continuing to be safeguarded. Police are urging anyone who knows a victim or believes they've been a victim themselves to come forward.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Gary Calvert said: "Our priorities remain to arrest those believed to be responsible for these offences and to offer support to safeguard those victims already identified, while encouraging anyone else who believes they may know or have been a victim themselves to talk to us.

"If there are any women and girls who have been involved in this activity, even if they don't believe they're a victim, we'd still like to speak to them.

"Our stage of the operation will continue over the next few days and we would still urge the public to come forward and help us."

Update: 27/01/2014

Thirteen addresses have been searched and 15 people arrested - 13 men and two women - on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

27/01/2014

Northumbria Police has launched an investigation called “Operation Sanctuary” following information about a series of sexual assaults involving a number of men from a range of communities and female victims.

A dedicated team of specialist officers has been set up and, as part of the investigation, searches are being carried out on properties, predominantly in Newcastle, but also in other locations across the force area. 

Eleven properties were searched this morning and eight people arrested (seven men and one woman) for conspiracy to rape.

The investigation is at a very early stage and the priority is to protect victims and any potential victims, while forensic teams secure important evidence.

Officers are working closely with local authorities and safeguarding partners to ensure the correct support is in place for victims.
 
All those arrested and addresses searched were identified as a direct result of information gathered by police about specific individuals.

Leading the operation is Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Gary Calvert, who said: “This is a sensitive investigation which is at a very early stage and moving rapidly.

“I understand that these types of allegations can cause the public concern and I want to reassure the community that police take crimes of this nature extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate them. Our overarching priority is to protect any victims or potential victims and to bring any offenders to justice.

“I must emphasise that the suspects do not come from one community but a range of communities and it would be very wrong to speculate until we have the full facts which may take some time. The victims include teenage girls as well as young adults.

“We are working closely with our partners, in particular the local authorities, and are grateful for their co-operation. I would stress there is nothing to suggest there is any risk to the general public as we believe the victims and suspects were known to each other.

“We need the support of local people to help us and I would urge people to come forward with any information they may have. Neighbourhood officers, known to their communities, will be on patrol to reassure people and anyone should feel free to speak to them about concerns they may have.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or speak to their local neighbourhood officers who are out and about patrolling in the area. They can also ring Crimestoppers on Tel: 0800 555111. Advice and support is also available via Victim Support Tel: 0845 277 0977 or Childline Tel: 0800 1111.