Six arrested in child sex offenders probe

Police have arrested six men on the Fylde coast following an operation to target child sexual exploitation.
Police have arrested six men on the Fylde coast following an operation to target child sexual exploitation.

Six men have been arrested as part of a high profile police clampdown on sex offenders who prey on children on the Fylde coast.

The arrests, for possession of indecent images and child grooming offences, are among 22 made by police across Lancashire in the last week.

All six men arrested on the Fylde coast have been bailed until the New Year.

It follows a week of activity by police aimed at raising awareness of child sexual 
exploitation (CSE) and encouraging victims to come forward.

One of the detectives who was has been leading the inquiries in Blackpool, Det Insp Nick Connaughton, said some of the arrests were the direct result of new information uncovered during the last week.

He added: “Some of these are people who have been on our radar but some of it is intelligence we have gather through speaking to young people.

“This is a significant result, with a lot of effort, time and dedication has gone into it.

“The primary aim of this is to safeguard children and vulnerable people – for every arrest we make, we believe we are safeguarding people in the Blackpool area.”

Across the county, police targeted more than 140 “hotspots” over the last week, including amusement 
arcades, fast food restaurants, cinemas, and railway

More than 50 visits were made to both potential offenders and at-risk children, with 12 new CSE referrals made in the last seven days.

Det Insp Connaughton added: “I want to stress this is an issue in every town and city across the UK – it is not just Blackpool we are looking at.

“Blackpool has its own unique problems but I wouldn’t say it is worse .

“It is a unique type of place in terms of its nighttime economy and attraction for young people – so it is different but I wouldn’t say its a particularly larger problem.”

Det Supt Sue Cawley, head of Lancashire’s public protection unit, said: “This week we have executed a number of warrants around the county, which has resulted in the arrest of 22 people who we believe have been involved in various offences relating the exploitation and abuse of children.

“I am confident the awareness week has highlighted the work currently undertaken to tackle the issue and that our approach is a long-term one with important work happening each and every day.

“Tackling child sexual exploitation is extremely important for the constabulary and we are committed to preventing child sexual abuse, supporting victims and bringing those responsible to justice.

As part of these inquiries, a 54-year-old Blackpool man has been arrested on suspicion of grooming offences.

Four more men from Blackpool – aged 26, 41, 30 and 29 – were arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images.

A sixth man, aged 45 and from the Cleveleys area, was also arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent 

All six have now been released on police bail until dates in March and May.