DETECTIVES investigating non-recent allegations of child sexual abuse in North Kirklees have arrested another 44 people.
A total of 36 men and three women were arrested from addresses across Kirklees, Bradford and Leeds over the last two weeks.
Five other men were arrested at the end of last year in connection with the same allegations. All 44 have been interviewed and released under investigation.
The West Yorkshire Police operation 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 latest arrests follow a similar operation some six months ago when a total of 55 mostly local men were arrested on suspicion of historic sex abuse cases from between 2004 and 2009.
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.”
The arrests follow dozens of convictions and charges brought against grooming gangs from Huddersfield in 2018. Twenty men received prison sentences totalling over 200 years, although some suspects are believed to have fled the country to avoid justice.
Another 30 mostly Huddersfield-area men were charged with CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) offences last October, but as with the cases in 2018, these are subject to strict reporting restrictions to avoid the possibility of publicity prejudicing ongoing proceedings.
The latest police operation coincided with a report into the Huddersfield cases by Dr Mark Peel, which found that Kirklees Council’s Childrens’ Services failed to act, despite clear evidence from girls in their care that they were being exploited for sex.