Five men have been arrested in the UK by child exploitation officers investigating alleged sex crimes against teenage girls.
Dawn raids were carried out at five properties in Banbury, Oxfordshire, by around 45 officers, Thames Valley Police said.
The five men arrested – aged 18 to 21 – were held on suspicion of sex offences against three girls aged between 13 and 16 between 2011 and this year.
Council chiefs said the girls were “very vulnerable young people” who had told social services they were being sexually exploited.
Today’s operation heralds the first multiple arrests made by Thames Valley Police’s Kingfisher team, set up in 2012 to tackle child sex exploitation.
Police said the alleged offences occurred in Banbury and the surrounding areas, and that the five men arrested were local to the area.
Chief Inspector Helen Roberts, of Thames Valley Police, said: “The warrants executed today are the direct result of work by the Kingfisher team.
“Child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in the Thames Valley and this dedicated team track offenders down to bring them to justice.
“We hope that today’s operation not only offers protection to these victims but also any others who we are encouraging to come forward.
“We will work with our partner agencies to offer them all the support they need as we carry out the investigation.
“I understand today’s events will have an impact on the local community and people will rightly be concerned about the nature of these arrests.”
Jim Leivers, director of children, education and families at Oxford County Council, said: “The arrests relate to the abuse of very vulnerable young people who told social workers that they were being sexually exploited.
“They were referred to Kingfisher as soon as their suspected involvement in child sexual exploitation came to light, and we have been supporting them since then including at the time of the arrests.”