Archive for March 24, 2012

Detectives believe they have smashed a child trafficking gang preying on runaways as young as 11 for Britain’s sex trade.

Thirteen men were arrested in Oxford by police investigating claims 24 vulnerable girls under 16 were groomed for rape.

Officers suspect gang members targeted children in care or living rough and transported them around Britain over a six-year period.

Amid fears more children may be involved, patrols of officers took to the streets of the university city to hand out public awareness leaflets.

Thames Valley Police said nine men – aged between 21 and 37 – remain in custody and are being quizzed over a string of offences including causing the prostitution of females under the age of 18, administrating drugs for the purpose of rape, trafficking, grooming and rape. Four men, aged 23, 31, 34 and 37, were released on bail until April 19.

Police became aware of the allegations after a number of girls were reported missing. More than 100 officers took part in raids as the force executed 14 warrants across the city as part of an operation named Bullfinch.

Police were not willing to comment on the nationalities of any of the suspects but sources said many of the offences centred in or around the Oxford area.

Many of the alleged victims were said to have been “known” to children’s services. Mr Mason, speaking later at the force’s city headquarters, said the inquiry was still at an early stage.

Much of Thursday’s activity was centred near St Aldates police station in central Oxford. More than 40 uniformed officers and community support officers were handing out A5 flyers about the operation.

Police chiefs also posted a video on YouTube to reassure community members and urge any potential victims to come forward.

Operation Bullfinch – Oxford

Oxford Child exploitation investigation – update

Thames Valley Police together with Thames Valley and Chiltern CPS can confirm that 6 men have been charged tonight (23/3) in connection with Operation Bullfinch, an investigation into child exploitation in Oxford.

The men have been remanded in custody and will attend Magistrates’ court tomorrow  (24/3).

A 26 year-old man has been charged with ten counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

A 30 year-old man has been charged with one count of conspiring to rape a child, and one count of arranging prostitution of a child, and one count of trafficking.

A 31 year-old man has been charged with three counts of rape and one count of conspiring to rape a child, and three counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill, and one count of trafficking.

A 37 year-old man has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to rape a child and one count of supplying a class A controlled drug to a child.

A 32 year-old man has been charged with one count of rape.

A 26 year-old man has been charged with four counts of rape and two counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, and one count of making a threat to kill.

Three other men who were arrested in connection with the investigation have been released on police bail until 12th April.

Four other men were released on police bail pending further enquiries yesterday (22/3). The men, who are aged 23, 31, 34, and 37, were bailed to return to a police station on the 19th April.

The joint investigation, being carried out by Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council’s Children, Education and Families Department, is aimed at rescuing potential victims and securing convictions of suspects believed to be responsible for these crimes.

At this time we will not be confirming the names of those charged.

TWO people have died and many others were hurt in a crash involving a coach and a lorry on the M5 in the West Midlands.

The motorway is shut after the collision southbound close to Frankley services between junctions 3 and 4.

Police confirmed two fatalities and two people seriously hurt. The other injured people were described as “walking wounded”.

The crash happened shortly after 06:00 GMT. An eyewitness told the BBC the lorry had hit the coach from behind.

There were foggy conditions in the area and the crash happened on a section of the motorway where roadworks are being carried out.

West Midlands Ambulance Service earlier tweeted: “A large number of resources have been sent to the scene of the incident, including ambulances, rapid response vehicles, the Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team, BASICS Doctors and ambulance officers.

“A number of patients are currently being conveyed to various hospitals across the area.

“Whilst the majority of patients appear to be walking wounded there are a small number with potentially serious injuries.”

West Midlands Police advised drivers to travel on the M6 and M42 to avoid the M5

Police update

Police called at approximately 6:24 am this morning (Saturday 24 March) via a 999 call to reports of a serious road traffic collision on the motorway.

Police in attendance. This is a serious road traffic collision between a coach and a lorry on the M5 on junction three of the motorway.

There is one confirmed fatality, two people are seriously injured and a number of people are walking wounded.

The confirmed fatality is from the coach, there is one serious injury from the coach and a number of passengers on the coach sustained non life threatening injuries and are receiving medical attention. The driver of the lorry is in a serious condition.

None of the injured are children.

Junctions three to four on the M5 is closed in both directions and will remain closed for most of the day.

The police investigation in the very early stages and any witnesses asked to call 101.

M5 crash claims second victim

THE DRIVER of a lorry that crashed into the rear of a stationary coach in the early hours of yesterday morning (Saturday 24 March) has died.

The death brings the total fatalities from the collision to two.

The man who died had been driving from Manchester to Devon in a white heavy articulated Volvo lorry when he struck the single decker bus near to junction three of the M5.

The man, who is not being named at this time, died in hospital just after 9pm last night. He was 65 and from Somerset. His family had travelled from their home in the southwest to attend hospital.

A third man remains in a critical condition in hospital. He was a passenger on the bus.

Police were alerted to the crash at 6.24am when a member of the public dialled 999.

A 35-year-old Smethwick man who had been travelling on the bus to his job as a fruit picker in Evesham, Worcestershire, died at the scene.

A lengthy investigation into the cause of the collision is now underway and is likely to take some time.

The 49-year-old Birmingham driver of the bus was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He was later released on police bail.

The road was closed for around eight hours while collision investigators examined the scene as part of their inquiries.

Inspector John Thompson, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “This tragic incident has now claimed its second life.

“Our thoughts remain with the friends and family of those who have died during this difficult time. ”

Specialist family liaison officers have been appointed and are supporting both families.

They will provide a single point of contact between the families of the dead men and investigators, explaining the complex process which now follows as the investigation seeks to establish exactly what caused the collision.

The dedicated hotline for concerned relatives which opened in the immediate aftermath of the incident has now closed.

Call handlers – police staff members who volunteer to assist in the event of a major incident – responded to 11 calls from people concerned about relatives who had been travelling on the motorway at the time of the collision.

None of these people reported were casualties and all later turned up safe and well.

Various embassy officials also called the hotline to pledge their support should any of their nationals be involved.