Detectives believe they have smashed a child trafficking gang preying on runaways as young as 11 for Britain’s sex trade.
Twelve men are being questioned in Oxford by police investigating claims 24 vulnerable girls under 16 were groomed for rape.
Officers suspect gang members targeted children in care or living rough and transported them around Britain over a six-year period. Amid fears more children may be involved, patrols of officers took to the streets of the university city to hand out public awareness leaflets.
The men – aged between 21 and 37 – are being quizzed over a string of offences including causing the prostitution of females under the age of 18.
Thames Valley Police became aware of the allegations after a number of girls were reported missing. More than 100 officers took part in raids as the force executed 14 warrants across the city as part of an operation named Bullfinch.