Eight men held after dawn raid on suspected Home Counties paedophile ring
* Eight men arrested between age of 20 and 28 in High Wycombe, Bucks
* Teenage girl told police she'd been raped and abused for five years from 12
* Detectives believe ring could be responsible for abusing several other girls
A gang of Asian men were arrested during pre-dawn raids yesterday on suspicion of being part of a Home Counties paedophile ring.
The eight suspects were hauled from their homes at around 5am by 100 officers after a three-month investigation into child exploitation.
Police carried out the raids after a teenage girl told them how she had been raped and abused for five years from the age of 12.
Although only one victim has come forward so far, detectives believe the paedophile ring could be responsible for abusing several other girls.
Officers are understood to be investigating claims that one of the 10 homes in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, which were raided was used to host parties where girls were abused.
The victim who has come forward is understood to have told a social worker how she was ‘handed around among the men’ for five years.
Three months ago the girl, now 16, felt confident enough to give police an official statement revealing the extent of the abuse she suffered.
She told how she was groomed by a man who she believed to be her boyfriend before he callously passed her to other men in the paedophile ring.
Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, of Thames Valley Police, said the nature of the allegations were ‘at the most serious end of the sexual abuse scale’.
‘She was sexually abused by that male but he also subsequently introduced her to a number of his associates and the sexual abuse continued,’ he said.
‘We are anxious to identify the full scale of the abuse that has occurred.’
Last night neighbours living next to one of the homes that was raided claimed it was often used for wild late-night parties by Asian men.
The modest terrace home in a quiet cul-de-sac was broken into using a police battering ram at 5am yesterday.
Forensic experts spent most of the day collecting evidence from the house while a van of uniformed officers remained nearby.
One neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘There were groups of them, Asian men, who would drive up in nice cars - BMWs and Mercedes - and have parties there.
‘They didn’t live there. I don’t think anyone was living there. They just used the house for parties. The men looked well off. I feel sick thinking about it.’
All 10 men, aged between 20 and 28, were arrested on suspicion of committing various sexual offences against the girl.
The investigation, codenamed Operation Ribbon, was led by Detective Chief Inspector Vince Grey who made an appeal for other victims of abuse to come forward.
He said: ‘With this particular victim, she’s mainly discussed actions involving herself, not going into any great details in terms of other persons, but we believe in terms of what she told us that there will be other victims.
‘She’s been extremely brave and courageous in coming forward in the first place. Obviously we can’t imagine what she and other victims have gone through.
‘She’s come forward and she’s indicated what offending has happened to her, who’s been involved in that, and over what time period.’
The officer added: ‘We will not tolerate child exploitation in Thames Valley and today’s warrants are part of a lengthy investigation spanning many months.
‘We believe that it is likely that there are more victims who have not yet spoken to the police and would like to encourage anyone who is a victim to come forward and speak to us.
‘Our number one priority is to protect the victims, both their identities and wellbeing in such cases.’ The teenage girl at the centre of the alleged paedophile ring has now been taken into care.
Steve Baker, Tory MP for High Wycombe, said: ‘The alleged offences are utterly vile and I’m sure everyone will join me in condemning them.
‘The whole of Wycombe will stand against these despicable crimes irrespective of the ethnicity of the offenders.
‘But we must remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.
‘And it must not be forgotten that we have learnt from bitter experience in the past weeks, months and years that paedophilia is not confined to one segment of society.’
The arrests are the second high profile investigation into suspected child sex gangs which Thames Valley Police has conducted.
In March officers from the force made a string of similar arrests in Oxford during an investigation called Operation Bullfinch. Nine men are expected to face trial next year.
'She was sexually abused by that male but he also subsequently introduced her to a number of his associates and the sexual abuse continued. We are anxious to identify the full scale of the abuse that has occurred' - Detective Superintendent Rob Mason, Thames Valley Police
'There were groups of them, Asian men, who would drive up in nice cars - BMWs and Mercedes - and have parties there. They didn’t live there. I don’t think anyone was living there. They just used the house for parties. The men looked well off. I feel sick thinking about it' - Neighbour