Child sex exploitation: Six arrests made in Ballymena

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Detectives from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch have arrested six people in relation to offences linked to child sexual exploitation.

Fives males, aged 42, 56, 19, 23 and 17 and a 48-year-old female were arrested in the Ballymena area this morning by officers from the Northern Trust Public Protection Unit and are currently helping police with their enquiries. The males were arrested on suspicion of rape and other related offences. The 48-year-old female was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting rape and false imprisonment. A number of searches have also been carried out and a number of items removed for further examination.

Commenting on the operation, Detective Chief Inspector Deirdre Bones, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch said: “PSNI is committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and these arrests reflect our determination to apprehend those suspected of coercing, exploiting and abusing children and young people in this manner.

“It is important to note that although these arrests all took place in the Ballymena area, the suspects are not all linked to each other. This is not about organised sexual abuse by a group of people. The arrests are part of a wider PSNI investigation focused on child sexual exploitation.”

Detective Chief Inspector Bones said the PSNI is committed to tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation and safeguarding those who are at risk.