TWELVE men have been arrested by police investigating a suspected child sex grooming ring in Leeds.
The men, aged 17 to 33, were held in a series of “pre-planned arrests”, mainly in the Beeston area of the city, following an inquiry into serious sexual offences thought to stretch back several months.
Their alleged offences relate, at this stage, to a single girl, described only as a “juvenile”.
Police have not revealed her age or ethnicity, nor the ethnicities of the arrested men.
But it is understood the case does not mirror that which saw nine Asian men jailed in May for between four and 19 years each for exploiting white girls in Rochdale.
Chief Supt Paul Money, commander of the City and Holbeck division of West Yorkshire Police, said: “On Wednesday morning officers attended a number of addresses, primarily in the Beeston area, to carry out pre-planned arrests as part of an investigation into serious sexual offences.
“A total of 12 men, aged 17 to 33, were arrested and taken in custody.
“They have since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.”
It is understood the arrests were carried out peacefully and with minimal disruption to other residents.
Further developments in the case are not expected for several months as the arrested men are not expected to answer bail until the new year. Police will continue to carry out intensive inquiries in the meantime.
Mahboob Nazir, vice chairman of the Abu Haraira Mosque in Beeston, said there had been rumours that police were investigating men in the area.
He added: “It’s devastating – an absolute shock that it could be happening under our noses. You hear about things like this happening in other areas, but you don’t think of it happening in your own locality.
“Anyone guilty of these acts should be dealt with according to the full force of the law.
“Everyone has an obligation to support the police in their investigations and stand side by side with them.
“This could be anybody’s daughter, anybody’s child – a life is a life.”
Beeston and Holbeck councillor David Congreve said he was shocked to hear news of the arrests.
“I think it’s very sad, not just for Beeston but for Leeds, to think that this sort of thing might be going on,” he said.
“You hear about this sort of thing in other areas, but when it happens in your area it’s very difficult to take.
“I’m sure the police have acted positively and quickly in making these arrests.”