Child exploitation investigation leads to arrests in Govanhill

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More arrests have been made as investigations into child exploitation in Govanhill continue.

Five men and one women were charged with offences relating to child abuse and neglect last week following work by a specialist unit into allegations concerning Roma children in one of Scotland’s most deprived communities.

Two of the men have already appeared in court, while the others have been reported to prosecutors.

Several agencies are currently involved in work to protect children identified as being at-risk during the police investigation.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Our investigation into reports of child sexual exploitation in the Govanhill area continues.

“We continue to work closely with a range of partners to ensure that support is in place and that children who may be at risk are protected.”

Local councillors have welcomed the news of the arrests.

Councillor Bailie Soryia Siddique said: “Govanhill community have raised concerns regarding child exploitation.

“The news will go towards reassuring the community that investigations are progressing.

“Anyone with concerns that a child is being abused or neglected please contact the police.”

Councillor Mhairi Hunter, City Convener for Health and Social Care, added: “It is heartening to hear that the police have been successful in bringing charges after a very intensive and lengthy investigation.

“I would encourage anyone with concerns about the wellbeing of any child or young person to make those concerns known to the police or social work services.

“They can do so with confidence that their concerns will be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

The issue first came to light in September 2015 at a meeting of the Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council which recorded in the minutes that an “issue had been raised regarding child prostitution within Govanhill”.

The Scottish National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU) was drafted in last November following a report by The Times newspaper alleging that Roma children were being routinely exploited by parents and relatives in the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency.

And Govanhill residents have also claimed that police were told about the issue of child sexual exploitation in the area years ago.

Cllr Hunter continued: “Child sexual exploitation is a real problem not only in Govanhill but elsewhere in Glasgow and there are real challenges for police and social work in working with young people to intervene and disrupt the behaviour of perpetrators.”

The NCAIU investigation is ongoing.