A major police operation into sex allegations involving underage girls has led to the arrest of 32 people across our area.
The 30 men and two women have been detained in a series of raids across Huddersfield and Dewsbury during the week – and only now they are complete can the Examiner exclusively reveal more details about the operation.
Police have interviewed 120 girls regarding historic allegations of child sex abuse over a seven year period and 16 of them have provided evidence which has led to the arrests.
A detective involved in the investigation said many did not want to give information because “they have had children, got married and want to move on with their lives.”
Some of the original 120 girls are understood to have connections to one another.
Those arrested – aged from their late teens to mid 40s – live in Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Dewsbury and Bradford. They were detained in a four day, pre-planned operation which began on Monday.
The arrests were carried out following an investigation which began in late 2013 when a young woman accompanied by her mother went to a police station and said she had been the victim of sexual abuse.
All those arrested have been interviewed and released on bail pending further enquiries.
The investigation, named Operation Tendersea, has been so secret that many police officers are still unaware of it.
The investigation centres on allegations made by 16 women of sexual abuse committed against them as children aged 11-18-years-old between 2004 and 2011.
The operation was set up as a direct result of the initial disclosure by the girl who went to see the police in 2013 and featured five detective constables, a detective sergeant and a detective inspector as well as six investigation officers – all ex-detectives.
Det Chief Insp Tony Nicholson, head of Kirklees District CID, said: “This investigation forms part of West Yorkshire Police’s commitment to the investigation of both current and historic sexual offences against children.
“These are abhorrent crimes that affect the most vulnerable in our society.
“Protecting children and ensuring that victims are put at the heart of everything we do is a top priority for the force.
“We have specialist safeguarding units in each of our five policing districts which include officers dedicated to dealing with both current and historic child abuse and child sexual exploitation.
“Tackling child abuse is not something that any one agency can do in isolation though which is why we work closely with local authorities and other organisations and charities to support victims, bring offenders to justice and make our communities safer.
“We would urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, whether recent or historic, to report it to the police.
“Please be assured that you will be listened to, taken seriously and supported by professionals with experience of dealing with these kind of offences.”
Kirklees councillors were being briefed on the investigation this morning.
Sarah Callaghan, Kirklees Council, Director for Children and Young People, said: “Tackling all forms of child abuse remains a top priority for the council and Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board.
“There is a relentless focus and determination from all partners towards eradicating any form of child abuse.
“We remain 100% committed to protecting every child wherever possible and will do all we can to ensure they are as safe as can be. This includes supporting the police to bring perpetrators of historical child sex abuse to trial and tackling this horrendous crime.”