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Nine quizzed over child grooming

Nine men are being investigated over claims that they groomed teenage girls for sex.

The suspects, who are all Asian and aged between 20 and 40, from Rochdale and Heywood in Greater Manchester, were arrested on suspicion of causing or inciting child prostitution, sexual activity with a child under 16 and paying for the sexual services of a child.

The arrests, made last month, were part of an investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls by men since 2008, said Greater Manchester Police (GMP). All the men have since been released on bail pending further inquiries.

According to reports, up to 14 girls aged between 13 and 15 alleged they were plied with alcohol and drugs before they were taken to properties for sex.

Rochdale divisional commander Chief Superintendent John O'Hare said: "I hope this action shows the communities of Rochdale that we take the issue of sexual exploitation of children extremely seriously.

"This is an extremely complex investigation and the welfare of the victims is absolutely paramount. Both GMP and Rochdale Council have working strategies in place to combat child exploitation and will work together to prosecute people who target vulnerable children and young people.

"Child sex exploitation is something that parents and carers everywhere should be aware of. Parents and carers should talk to their children, take an interest in what they are doing and warn them not to go off with strangers, no matter how tempting it might seem.

"We have shown that people who do exploit children will be investigated."

The news of the arrests emerged following an unrelated case last week in which two Asian men were jailed at Nottingham Crown Court for raping and sexually abusing teenage white girls after previously grooming them.

After the men were jailed, Labour former home secretary Jack Straw sparked a backlash after claiming the case was evidence of a specific problem among young men in the UK's Pakistani community.

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