Michael Race, Crime reporter, Oxford Mail
POLICE raided 11 properties across Oxford this morning to crack a suspected child sex exploitation gang.
In one of the biggest police operations into CSE in the city, about 160 officers stormed into 11 different locations simultaneously at about 5am.
A total of nine men have been arrested in connection with child sexual exploitation offences.
The dawn raid was carried out as part of Operation Rolo, an investigation into child sex exploitation, after two victims – girls under the age of 16 at the time – told detectives they had been sexually abused between 2002 and 2004.
The raids were carried out across the city, and included homes in East Oxford, Cowley and Headington.
Officers at pre-dawn briefing
Following today’s arrests, Local Police Area commander for Oxford, Supt Joe Kidman, said: "This is a complex investigation into non-recent child sexual exploitation in Oxford which has been undertaken by the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Unit.
"Nine men have been arrested in connection with these offences, which relate to two female victims in Oxford between 2002 and 2004. We are working with our partners to safeguard and support the victims.
"The nature of these arrests will always be concerning and I understand that people may have questions about them.
"Because this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide all the information straight away, but we will keep the community updated when we can.
"Tackling child sexual exploitation, both non recent and current, remains an absolute priority for Thames Valley Police and this complex investigation and today’s arrests demonstrate this.
"The news of these warrants today could remind people of something that has happened to them in the past which they wish to report to us.
"If that is the case, please pick up the phone and call Thames Valley Police on our 24-hour number 101. If you don’t want to speak to police you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
"I would like to reassure you that we will listen to you and we will support you."
As part of the investigation into sexual offences, the force is appealing for witnesses following an incident relating to one of the victims which occurred on a night in late 2004.
The victim, a 16-year-old girl, was walking at the St Clements roundabout in Oxford when a silver people carrier pulled up beside her.
A group of Asian men were inside the vehicle and told the victim she should get in.
Feared she would be assaulted if she did not do as she was told, the victim got into the car and was told she would be sexually assaulted before being taken to Cutteslowe Park.
She later escaped before hiding in bushes until she was convinced the men had left. The girl was picked up by a woman and given a lift home.
Det Sgt Nicola Douglas urged the woman who helped the girl to come forward.
She said: "We believe that she was aged between 40 and 50, had a Yorkshire accent, curly red or brown hair, and could have been driving a Metro."