Edwin Poots welcomes child sex exploitation probe
An independent inquiry is to be held into child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland.
A total of 22 suspected victims, aged between 13 and 18, have been identified and more than 30 people arrested as part of a police investigation into potential organised crime.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: "Judging from the public reaction to this issue I know many share with me a sense of disbelief and horror that this is happening in our society.
"People are also asking valid questions about whether everything that can be done is being done."
Most of those targeted lived in residential care homes but the allegations relate to periods when they were not in the facilities, such as on nights out when they failed to return.
A team of 12 detectives is working on a police investigation alongside social workers. Their proposed remit includes examining the nature and extent of child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland.