DETECTIVES investigating allegations of a pedophile grooming gang operating in West Yorkshire have arrested 44 people as part of a probe.
36 men and three women have been arrested from homes across Kirklees, Bradford, Leeds and others parts of West Yorkshire over the last two weeks.
Five other men were arrested at the end of last year in connection with the same investigation. The suspects are aged between 39 and 81 years old.
All 44 people arrested have been interviewed and released under investigation.
The investigation centres on allegations made by four women of sexual abuse committed against them as children predominantly in the Dewsbury and Batley areas between 1995 and 2002.
The victims were aged between 12 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse.
Detective Inspector Seth Robinson, leading the investigation, said: ‘Safeguarding and protecting children remains the top priority for West Yorkshire Police.
‘We hope that these recent arrests reassure our local communities that we are wholly committed to tackling child sexual exploitation in Kirklees both current and non-recent.
‘Child sexual abuse and exploitation is an abhorrent and heinous crime and one which affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
‘West Yorkshire Police has specialist safeguarding units across each of the five Districts, which include police officers and detectives dedicated to dealing with both current and non-recent child abuse and child sexual exploitation.
‘Tackling child abuse is not something that any one agency can do in isolation; we work closely with local authorities, other organisations and charities to support victims, bring the perpetrators to justice and make our communities safer.
‘We would urge anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, whether recent or historic, to report it to the police. Please be assured that you will be listened to, taken seriously and supported by professionals with experience of dealing with these kind of offences.’