Northumbria Police Launch Operation Sanctuary To Investigate Sexual Assaults

Specialist Team Formed To Handle Investigations

29.01.2014

Northumbria Police has launched investigations known as 'Operation Sanctuary' in relation to information about a series of sexual assaults, with 16 men and two women being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.
 
A dedicated team has been set up and is carrying out searches on properties in Newcastle and other locations as part of their investigations, which related to alleged assaults on teenage girls and young adult women.
 
While victims are being safeguarded, officers are now calling on anyone else affected, or those who may know a victim, to come forward with more information.
 
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."
 
Northumbria Police added that this stage of the operation is likely to continue over the next few days.
 
Emma Crowther, a legal specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: "While very little is known at this stage, news of the arrests have caused a great deal of concern in Newcastle and the surrounding area.

"All of the communities affected will now be seeking reassurances and keen for more information regarding what has happened.
 
"It is very welcome that the police are placing a high priority on ensuring those affected are given the right support at this incredibly difficult time and it is vital that as much information as possible is gathered on the serious allegations which have been raised."