Five released in Ballymena child sexual exploitation probe - one in custody

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Five of the six people arrested in Ballymena in connection with child sexual exploitation offences have been released from custody.

Three men aged 23, 42 and 56, and a woman aged 48 have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

PSNI

PSNI

A 19-year-old man has been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service, while a 27-year-old man remains in custody. All six were detained on Thursday morning as part of a major police investigation into child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland.

The men were arrested on suspicion of rape and related offences while the woman was held over allegations of aiding and abetting rape and false imprisonment.

DCI Deirdre Bones, said: “It is important to note that although these arrests all took place in the Ballymena area, the suspects are not all linked to each other.

“This is not about organised sexual abuse by a group of people. The arrests are part of a wider PSNI investigation focused on child sexual exploitation.”

A number of searches were carried out and items removed for forensic examination.

DCI Bones has urged parents and carers to be vigilant to the risks of sexual exploitation.

“We all have a responsibility to tackle this issue and protect those who are the most vulnerable in our society. Child sexual exploitation is something that parents and carers everywhere need to be aware of. Think about what your children are doing, where they are going and who they are meeting.”