A MAN from Chester-le-Street has been charged as part of an investigation into sexual offences involving about 80 potential victims.
The development comes as part of Operation Sanctuary investigating allegations of sexual crime involving vulnerable women and girls.
Gurhan Sayan, 44, of Plunkett Terrace, was charged with assault by penetration and will be tried in August, while a Newcastle man was charged with raping a child.
A further arrest was made this week, bringing the total of arrests, linked to Operation Sanctuary, to 59 – including two women.
Northumbria Police Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “Our priority is to speak to all those women and girls we have identified to establish if they are a victim, a witness or are not part of the investigation. This has to be done carefully and in conjunction with our professional partners and is a slow process, often involving several meetings with an individual before the circumstances can be established.
“As the investigation progresses, what we are seeing is more members of the public prepared to share information about concerns they may have. Some of these incidents may well form part of the Operation Sanctuary investigation and some may be investigated separately, but they are all important to us and I want to reassure the public that we will take all such information seriously and will investigate it.
“The superb response we have had demonstrates that local people support us to ensure our communities are no-go areas for such criminal activity.”
Anyone with any information or concerns is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference “Operation Sanctuary”, or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Advice and support is also available via Victim Support on 0845 277 0977 or Childline on 0800 1111.