‘Rape plot’ police seek to contact 80 women

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Police want to speak to 80 women as part of their investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of teenage girls and young adults in north-east England.

Operation Sanctuary has already seen 30 people arrested, all on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

The alleged offenders are said to be from a range of backgrounds and the investigation was first sparked after information was received from one victim.

Raids have taken place across Newcastle and Gateshead and today Northumbria Police said they will be making contact with these further women.

Police said they did not think all the women were necessarily victims, but they believed they may have information that could help them.

Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “We’re keen for people to be vigilant and report any information they have to police.

“The women and girls we’ve identified so far are all vulnerable in some way, this is the common factor. It could be they have a chaotic lifestyle, a drug or alcohol addiction or are, or have been, in care.

“Members of the public may recognise this description as a person they know – someone vulnerable who is potentially involved or at risk of being taken advantage of.

“These are crimes that are happening behind closed doors, in local areas, and it is likely that people living nearby recognise the behaviour we’re describing.

“It could be groups of men going into properties with teenage girls or young women. They may see women under the influence of drink or drugs who may appear distressed.

“We need people to report this to us – we can’t do this alone. We all have a collective responsibility to make our communities a no go area for this type of behaviour. If it doesn’t look right, if it just feels wrong, then ring us.”