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16 April 2016, 07:11 | Updated: 16 April 2016, 09:04
A former trainee policeman in Bedfordshire's been jailed for a string of child sex offences.
Mohammad Arshad, 35, of Ferndale Road, Luton, has been sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison at St Albans Crown Court yesterday (Friday) after being convicted of 17 charges relating to 12 underage girls.
He was also sentenced to an 8 year extended licence period after he was considered to be dangerous by the sentencing judge.
Police believe Arshad, also known as 'Waz', may have contacted a number of other young people and are urging any other potential victims to come forward.
Arshad was a trainee officer between April 2014 and October 2014 but was immediately suspended when one of the victims came forward.
He left the force in December 2014.
Bedfordshire Police launched an investigation and searched his home. Images of teenage girls were discovered on his phone and computers. Officers managed to trace a number of potential victims though social media messages.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Baron said:
"From our investigations it is clear that Arshad was prolific on social media, targeting young girls, befriending them and then grooming them for sex.
It may well be that there are more potential victims out there who have been contacted by Arshad and we would urge them to come forward so we can give them the support they need.
I would also appeal to parents to be vigilant and help to identify those who might be at risk of exploitation and to speak to your children about online risks.
We are working closely with schools to help educate children and young people on how to stay safe online and regularly run workshops on internet safety. We also run sessions for parents advising them on the steps they can take to protect their child while using the internet."
Arshad was charged with a total of 22 charges against 13 girls covering a period between October 2012 and December 2014.
He denied all of the offences, but was convicted of 17 of the charges following a trial, which included:
Assistant Chief Constable Mike Colbourne added:
"Once the allegations were passed to us, we were able to act quickly to arrest Mohammad Arshad and ensure he was remanded in custody and therefore unable to commit any further offences. We worked closely with Luton Borough Council to identify and safeguard potential victims and I would like to commend all of the girls who have given evidence in this trial for their incredible bravery to come forward and help bring him to justice.
Since this case we have reviewed our vetting policies and procedures in order to ensure they are as robust as possible to prevent anyone involved in criminality from joining the force and thus further protect the people we serve."
Any potential victims can call the dedicated number for Operation Acer 07467 198669. Please note the number is not monitored 24 hours a day so if it the matter is urgent call 999 or Bedfordshire Police on 101.
Bedfordshire Police is working with its partner agencies to help tackle child sexual exploitation.