Today police launched a major investigation into the rape and sexual assault of school children in Devon after 20 victims came forward. The police have praised the bravery of the 20 victims.
Thousands of parents have now been sent letters asking them to be ‘vigilant’. Local authorities have warned that children should not go out alone. Devon and Cornwall Police said the inquiry, named Operation Mansfield, focused on abuse that is said to have taken place over a number of recent years.
A 19-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the investigation and officers said that more arrests were likely.
Lead investigator Detective Inspector Simon Snell said the victims were predominantly girls, all aged 12 and upward. Two of the children allegedly abused were in care. All victims knew the offenders, but none are family members. DI Snell also stressed that the case did not involve paedophiles snatching children off the street.
So far 20 victims, who attend different secondary schools in Torbay and Teignbridge, have been interviewed and alleged offences included rape and sexual assault.
DI Snell paid tribute to the victims, saying: ‘We are dealing with children from all different backgrounds and social groups. I respect their bravery – they have been very brave coming forward to us.’
‘We will protect the victims – with every victim that comes forward to us their welfare is uppermost,’ he added.
Anyone with any concerns around child exploitation in Torbay is advised to call the police on 08452 777444 and quote Operation Mansfield.