A suspected sex trafficking ring in Oxford was far larger than previously feared, according to police.
Reports suggest that as many as 50 young girls have come forward claiming to have been exploited, following the high profile arrests of thirteen Oxford residents last month.
It was originally thought there were 24 victims, aged between 11 and 16 years, but more girls have since contacted the police alleging they were also abused.
Thames Valley Police have also made two more arrests in connection with the ongoing inquiry, bringing the total to 15 people.
A 39 year old man was arrested on Tuesday 10th April on suspicion of grooming and has been released on police bail until 10 May. He was out of the country when officers made the original arrests on 22 March.
A 40 year old woman was arrested on Wednesday 11th April on suspicion of grooming but was released without charge.
The news follows Operation Bullfinch, led by Thames Valley Police and assisted by Oxfordshire County Council, which revealed that a “criminal gang” of had groomed, drugged and raped vulnerable individuals over a period of six years. Thirteen men were arrested.
Esther Davidson, from the group Oxford Community Against Trafficking said, “The essential thing to realise is that human trafficking and sexual exploitation are happening on an appalling scale – not just in places like Eastern Europe or Cambodia, but in towns and cities right across Britain. We are not immune. Members of our society are involved.
“But because this is a hidden crime, we all need to keep our eyes open. If you are concerned that someone might be being coerced into exploitation, you can tell Crimestoppers safely and anonymously. The good news is that anyone can make a difference. And students have a particular role to play in raising awareness. We need every creative way of waking people up.”
OUSU’s Vice President for women, Yuan Yang, added, “Sex trafficking and forced prostitution stem from treating people as objects, not as humans. We can all stand against sexual violence by making sure to demonstrate respect to other human beings in our own lives. This can be as simple as making sure that people we have sex with are fully consenting, or as courageous as calling someone out on a sexually abusive joke.”
Last month Oxford residents Zehsan Ahmed, Kamar Jamil, Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Mohammed Karrar and Bassan Karrar were all charged for crimes relating to child explotation.
The other seven men who had previously been arrested and bailed in connection with the inquiry answered their bail on Thursday 12th April and it has been extended until 7 June.