20 Men Charged In Operation Sanctuary
5 February 2015, 15:05 | Updated: 5 February 2015, 15:13
The men have been charged for sexual crimes against vulnerable women and girls as young as 13.
Operation Sanctuary, launched by Northumbria Police last year, has involved the authorities speaking to more than 100 potential complainants as well as making a number of raids across Tyneside.
20 men are appearing in court on charges including rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking within the UK, and supplying class A drugs.
A number of the allegations relate to girls as young as 13 and some of the other charges include arranging child prostitution and false imprisonment.
Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said:
"Today marks a milestone in this operation. Since the first allegations were made over a year ago we have painstakingly left no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate all allegations.
"We have worked closely with a range of other agencies including the local authority and CPS to reach this point.
We are limited in what we can say as we must now protect the integrity of the criminal proceedings and must avoid any statements that could breach legal restrictions and put prosecutions at risk.
"To date, this part of the investigation has involved speaking to over 100 potential complainants, a dozen of whom have been identified as victims in relation to today’s charges.
This has been done carefully with support from other professionals and I must commend them all for their bravery in working with us.