Arrest near Thornbury by police investigating child sexual exploitation

POLICE have made 11 arrests, including one in Alveston, as part of an investigation into child sexual exploitation in Bristol.

Officers from Avon & Somerset’s child sexual exploitation disruption team, with support from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and National Crime Agency, made the arrests today in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.  

All of those arrested were men and boys aged between 17 and 33: ten on suspicion of an exploitation-related offence and one on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a class A drug. 

Some, but not all, of the offending involves online exploitation, a police spokesperson confirmed. 

‘Serious and complex investigation’ – police

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Jess Aston said: “Today’s arrests are a significant moment in a serious and complex investigation. 

“Although we remain in the early stages, we believe a number of children, aged in their mid to late teens, are victims of sexual exploitation and our priority is to identify and safeguard them, which we’ll do at pace alongside our partner agencies. 

“Officers and staff with Topaz, our child sexual exploitation disruption team, as well as our intelligence team, have been instrumental in carrying out the enquiries resulting in us reaching this arrest phase.  

“Child sexual exploitation can be a hidden crime, but we will continue to identify and support victims of these offences through a multi-agency response, as well as proactively seek out and disrupt offenders. 

“Our neighbourhood policing teams will be carrying out engagement and reassurance work with our community stakeholders, and we’d encourage anyone with concerns to contact their local team direct. 

“Due to arrests taking place across Bristol, our child sexual prevention officer Andri Nicolaou, and officers with the neighbourhood policing team, have also set up a stall in Broadmead to allow more direct engagement and awareness work around exploitation to take place, especially with young people.” 

Links to report crime or find support

More information about spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation can be found at on the Avon & Somerset police website, where people can also give information about a suspected vulnerable or exploited person.

Details of support for victims can also be found on the site.