Thirty men and one woman have been charged with a horrific string of child sexual exploitation offences against girls as young as 12, as part of what is believed to be Britain’s largest sex abuse ring.
The suspects, who are mainly from the Huddersfield area, appear to be Asian and are facing charges relating to offences committed over seven years, between 2005 and 2012.
One defendant, 31-year-old Mohammed Sajjad, has been charged with four counts of rape of a female age 13-15, one rape of a girl under 13 and facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
Another, Manzoor Akhtar, aged 29, and from Huddersfield, has been charged with trafficking and three counts of rape of a female aged 13-15.
Mohammed Waqas Anwar, also 29 and from Huddersfield has been charged with five counts of rape of a female aged 13-15.
The one woman charged, is Fehreen Rafiq. The 38-year-old faces two counts of facilitating the commission of a child sex offence – a crime, if found guilty, which can result in 14 years in prison.
Twelve defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have also been charged with numerous offences in connection with the same investigation.
Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield says he first looked into allegations of child sexual exploitation in 2009, and raised a Westminster Hall debate.
“There have been many cases of this across Britain for a very long time and previously there hasn’t been enough of a joined-up approach by police,” he said.
“I am confident now, that police take these cases very seriously and that justice is done.
The MP, who has represented Huddersfield since May 1979 added: “The victims have to have our full support to remake their lives. The restorative element of justice is so important. I am concerned about the complete package of support offered to victims.
“I hope there is a discussion about whether we are doing enough and if we are grasping that issue.”
Fay Maxted OBE, the CEO of The Survivors Trust said: “It is now all too common to read about shocking numbers of exploited and sexually abused children. What these stark numbers don’t really reveal is the devastation that these offences cause for the victim and also for their families who are also traumatised.
“The Survivors Trust website has details of specialist support agencies across the UK and I would encourage anyone who has been affected by sexual violence in any way to seek help and support.
The Survivors Trust is a UK-wide national umbrella agency for 130 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland.
All 31 defendants will appear at Kirklees Magistrates Court on September 5 and 6.
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