Some 40 Pakistani suspects have been arrested by British police over the last two months following a probe into allegations of serious child sex abuse in Rotherham.
The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) reported that two women and 38 men from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were being questioned by law enforcement.
According to detectives, the Pakistani suspects were allegedly involved in sexual abuse and exploitation of white victims as young as 11 as recently as in 2015.
In a statement to the media, the NCA indicated that all suspects arrested or interviewed since March, have been however been released or bailed pending further investigations,
Carl Vessey-Baitson, the NCA spokesman, said it has been a challenging and complex investigation: “Arresting such a large number of individuals, as part of one Stovewood sub-operation, shows our desire to listen to victims and bring offenders to justice is not wavering.”
Operation Stovewood was launched in 2014 after the publication of the damning Jay Report — an independent inquiry into the sexual exploitation, trafficking and rape of more than 1 400 mainly working-class white girls.
The Jay report exposed how the authorities in South Yorkshire including the police, social services and the Labour-controlled local council had turned a blind eye to the shocking abuse for fear of being called “racist”.
Vessey-Baitson said victims and survivors were reliving their terrible ordeal at the hands of their Muslim captors. “To date we have engaged with over 410 victims and survivors and have arrested or interviewed by appointment 94 suspects, meaning this is the largest law enforcement investigation into non-familial child sexual abuse and exploitation ever undertaken in the UK.
Seven Pakistani men were found guilty of sexual offences against young white girls in the latest abuse trial.
“Conducting such an investigation can only be achieved with the support and co-ordination of our partners, and South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council continue to provide invaluable assistance,” he noted.
Six trials relating to Stovewood investigations have so far taken place, while detectives at the NCA have identified at least 1 523 victims in Rotherham that had suffered from the ongoing horrendous abuse between 1997 and 2013.
At the end of last year, less than 20 percent of the known victims of the ongoing systematic rape in Rotherham had been engaged by police.
After a jury at Sheffield Crown Court found seven men, six Pakistani-heritage, one of Yemeni-heritage, guilting of the historic sexual abuse of five vulnerable underaged girls, the NCA, announced that Operation Stovewood had resulted in only 14 successful prosecutions.
Stovewood will cost British taxpayers around £100 million. It has employed 250 staff members, and is scheduled to be completed by 2024, although it is not expected to be completed on time.