September 11, 2014
POLICE are investigating the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children in Scotland by men from ethnic minorities in cases that bear striking similarities to the organised abuse of youngsters in Rotherham, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
Detectives have launched two operations into the abuse of vulnerable teenagers, some of whom absconded from children’s homes, in Glasgow.
The first, Operation Cotswold, set up in 2011, focused on a group of Middle Eastern asylum seekers in the north of the city. At least 26 potential victims were identified and files were sent to the procurator-fiscal, but no prosecutions were brought.
It is understood vulnerable young girls were found in the home of one or more suspects, but many identified as at risk did not see themselves as victims and were reluctant to co-operate, making it difficult to gather evidence and get the case to court.
In February 2013, after Operation Cotswold ended, the police launched Operation Dash, a broader attempt to root out child sexual exploitation (CSE) across the Strathclyde police area. Officers worked in partnership with the charity Barnardo’s Scotland to gather intelligence.
Scotland on Sunday understands that, as a result, a number of fast-food outlets and taxi services were linked to CSE and a number of suspected perpetrators, many Asian, were targeted in a criminal investigation. Operation Dash is ongoing and there are live proceedings. It is understood at least one case involves multiple alleged offenders.
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal confirmed: “As a result of [Operation Cotswold] a number of individuals were the subject of investigation and subsequent learning from that operation has informed the further work we have undertaken in the area of CSE.
“Operation Dash remains a live ongoing criminal investigation that has resulted, so far, in 21 persons being reported to COPFS [Crown Office and Procurator-Fiscal Service] in relation to a range of crimes and there are live ongoing criminal proceedings in a number of cases.”
The revelation about CSE in Scotland comes days after a damning report found a blatant failure of police and political leadership had allowed 1,400 girls from Rotherham to be sexually exploited by Asian men over a 16-year-period.