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UK football sex abuse probe officers identify 10 suspects

By PA Reporters

Published 02/12/2016

Revelation: Gareth Southgate
Revelation: Gareth Southgate

Ten suspects have been identified in a major police probe into historical child sex abuse in youth football as the scandal continued to grow.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said it was investigating reports from 35 people and its inquiry is growing on a "daily basis".

It comes as new England manager Gareth Southgate revealed he was once a teammate of one ex-professional who has spoken out about his ordeal.

Earlier, the National Police Chiefs' Council said around 350 people across the country had reported abuse. The number comes from information supplied by forces across the UK to Operation Hydrant, set up in 2014 to oversee investigations into historical child sex abuse concerning prominent people, and referrals from the NSPCC helpline.

GMP's Assistant Chief Constable Debbie Ford said the force was coordinating with Operation Hydrant.

She said: "We have received a number of calls from victims and those with concerns and on a daily basis the investigation is growing. We are currently in the process of speaking to victims in person and providing them with specialist support."

She said that as of yesterday, "we are investigating reports from 35 victims and we have identified 10 suspects".

More than a quarter of UK police forces are probing abuse allegations.

Derbyshire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire, Avon and Somerset, Essex and Norfolk Police are the latest to confirm they are investigating claims, bringing the current tally to 17.

North Yorkshire, Dorset, Staffordshire, Greater Manchester, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Cheshire, Scotland Yard and Police Scotland have also launched inquiries.

Northumbria Police said it had launched Operation Tide into child abuse in the 1980s and 90s at Championship club Newcastle United.

The NSPCC also said it received more than 860 calls to a helpline in the week after it was launched on November 23.

The charity made triple the number of referrals to police or children's services within the first three days than it did for the same period after opening its Jimmy Savile helpline in 2012.

The scandal snowballed after ex-professionals spoke out in recent weeks about the abuse they suffered as young players, prompting the Football Association to launch its own probe.

During a press conference yesterday, Southgate said child protection in football had improved since 15 or 20 years ago.

He said: "I played with one of the players who has recently come forward.

"The reality of that, as they have said, is that they haven't felt able to speak about that until this moment, and that's completely understandable.

"And of course with the benefit of hindsight you always replay things that you have seen from the past and have an understanding, 'oh, okay, that's why we saw the things we saw'.

"The situation we have now in terms of child protection is completely different, but we mustn't be complacent and think that we have got everything right."

The new England manager did not reveal the name his former teammate.

Belfast Telegraph

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