Public and businesses praised as Operation Sanctuary continues

27 Mar 2014 00:00 AM

Operation Sanctuary [View Full Size]

Police have praised the public and local businesses for their assistance as Operation Sanctuary continues.

Officers say there has been a tremendous response from people in relation to the investigation into allegations of sexual offences committed against vulnerable women and girls.

Not only has the public fed in information and reported any suspicious activity to police, hotel owners, taxi drivers and those working in the night time economy have also given their support to the operation.

This includes hotel owners refusing bookings from several men in company with a few women who appear to be under the influence of alcohol.

A taxi driver also spotted a drunken women being picked off the ground by two men. He was concerned for her safety so contacted police.

Since the operation's launch in January, 67 people (65 men and two women) have been arrested from across the force area.

A total of nine people have been charged and are now in the court system.

Officers have identified approximately 80 women and girls who are victims or potential complainants and are working with partners to speak to them and provide appropriate support.

Northumbria Police Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: "I would like to thank the public and local businesses for their support and for continuing to provide information to us if they see anything suspicious or have concerns.

"I can assure people that all reports are followed up and I'd ask they keep coming forward to us.

"This investigation has broadened considerably since it was first launched at the start of the year.

"However, the common theme remains that the offences involve young women and girls who are vulnerable. This is for a variety of reasons but often due to excess alcohol or drugs use.

"We are in the process of speaking to each and every one that has been identified in conjunction with our partners. This will take some time as each case has to be approached carefully and it may take several meetings before circumstances can be established.

"There is no place for this type of criminal activity in our area and we will disrupt those involved to ensure we bring it to an end."

Anyone with any information or concerns is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 'Operation Sanctuary', or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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