TEN men have been jailed for a total of nearly 35 years following a major investigation by North Yorkshire Police into child sexual exploitation.
Sentences of between six years and 15 months were handed to the men for offences ranging from possessing indecent images to sexual activity with a child.
The investigation was triggered when a mother concerned about her 13-year-old daughter’s dealings with older men handed in the girl’s mobile phone to police.
Around 30 suspects, none of whom were known to each other and were acting independently, were subsequently identified with regard to potential involvement in grooming offences conducted over the internet against the North Yorkshire teenager.
In addition to those who have been jailed, one man is still awaiting sentence while others have been cautioned or given community punishments. No further action was taken against some who ceased all contact with the teenager after being alerted to her age.
The offenders, who were aged between 20 and 45, lived in various parts of the UK and their cases were dealt with by a number of different police forces and courts. A 14-year-old boy was among others given what police refer to as “advice” about their behaviour.
Det Chief Supt Simon Mason, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “This investigation uncovered large-scale exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of several men, some of whom were married and had successful careers.
“Although some of the suspects ceased all contact with the girl when they discovered her age, many didn’t and they have been punished appropriately for their crimes.
“The scale of the data analysed to reach such a conclusion is matched only by the determination and dedication of the investigation team and our safeguarding partners, all of whom acted in close partnership.”
Police say anyone with concerns about a child being exploited should contact them via the 101 phone number or, in an emergency, dial 999. Advice can also be obtained from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) at www.ceop.police.uk or on 0870 000 3344.