Five men and two women were still being questioned by police last night in relation to allegations of serious domestic sexual abuse going back 30 years.
The seven accused were detained by police following a number of raids across south Down yesterday.
The arrests are understood to have been carried out in the Newcastle, Downpatrick, Ardglass and Killough areas.
Specialist officers from the PSNI’s public protection unit were called in after a number of complaints were made against several individuals. The arrests come after a lengthy and complex investigation.
One of the alleged victims told the Belfast Telegraph the abuse occurred over a number of years.
The victims were alleged to have been placed into care on a number of occasions but were then returned into the abusive setting. The alleged victim said he believed social services should have done more to protect those involved.
It is understood one of the men arrested in connection with the alleged abuse has been known to police for some time following a number of sex abuse allegations.
The man’s partner is also believed to have been arrested when police arrived at their Downpatrick home yesterday morning.
There is concern within the area that if his identity becomes known he may be subject to vigilante attack.
One resident said: “There have been rumours about him for many years about his alleged involvement in this type of thing. Quite a few years ago he was forced out of the area because people were unhappy with him living there.
“He moved back in again and there hasn’t been much trouble but I’m just worried about what could happen if this gets out. I don’t think it would just be a matter of being told to leave the area.
“He could find himself the target of some type of vigilante attack, even if he has done nothing wrong.”