Twenty two people have been arrested by Lancashire Police during a week of activity aimed at tackling the sexual exploitation of children.
Seventeen men from across Lancashire were arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children and have been bailed pending further enquiries.
A 54 year old man from Blackpool was arrested on suspicion of grooming offences in relation to a girl under the age of 13 and a girl under the age of 16 and has been bailed.
A 29 year old man from Preston was arrested and charged with rape, sexual assault, possessing indecent images and engaging in non-penetrative sexual activity with a girl over 13.
A 33 year old man and a 22 year old man were charged with breaching their sexual offences prevention orders and a 28 year old man was charged with a number of sex offences.
The week long multi-agency awareness campaign also saw thousands of school children, professionals, teachers, parents, carers, taxi drivers, sports coaches and youth leaders being involved in educational work and materials were distributed widely.
More than 140 hotspots were targeted across the county including amusement arcades, fast food restaurants, cinemas, rail and bus stations and visits were carried out to children’s homes.
Nearly 200 delegates attended the second annual CSE conference at the Mercure Dunkenhalgh Hotel in Blackburn learning best practice from guest speakers and the first young person’s conference offered feedback to the main conference on how the professionals can work better in the future.
An awareness training session was given at Ewood Park Football Ground and discussions about internet safety and recognising the signs of exploitation were conducted in schools across the county.
Officers also identified both potential offenders and at risk children conducting more than 50 visits and 12 new CSE referrals were made during the week.
Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, Head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit said: “This week we have executed a number of warrants around the county which has resulted in the arrest of 22 people who we believe have been involved in various offences relating the exploitation and abuse of children.
“The operation, along with all the other multi-agency activities that have taken place this week, clearly demonstrate our ability and intention to tackle child sexual exploitation.
“I am confident that the awareness week has highlighted the work currently undertaken to tackle the issue and that our approach is a long term one with important work happening each and every day.
“Tackling child sexual exploitation is extremely important for the constabulary and we are committed to preventing child sexual abuse, supporting victims and bringing those responsible to justice.”
Police are encouraging anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, sexually abused, groomed or exploited to come forward and contact police confident in the knowledge they will be dealt with sensitively and professionally.