A man has been charged with rape as part of a police operation which saw a string of properties in Newcastle raided earlier this year.
Officers this week arrested and charged Abdul Jelilou Ouro Kefia, 21, from Duncan Street in Walker, under the Operation Sanctuary investigation.
They had received a report on Monday that a teenage girl had been raped at an address in Newcastle.
Kefia was arrested and subsequently charged with one count of rape of a female under 16. He appeared at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on February 19 where he was remanded in custody.
The arrest and charge was made as part of Operation Sanctuary, which also saw several properties in the West End of the city raided in January after allegations of vulnerable women and girls being exploited.
Northumbria’s Deputy Chief Constable, Steve Ashman, has praised both victims and the public for the information they are passing on to police.
He said: “When we first announced Operation Sanctuary it was as a result of information that led us to search a series of properties in Newcastle, South Tyneside and Gateshead where we believed vulnerable girls and women had been sexually assaulted.
“We appealed for the public to help us and since then we have received a wealth of information that we are investigating. We have also seen an increase in victims coming forward to speak to us and that is exactly what we want.
“Operation Sanctuary has expanded to embrace all crimes of a sexual nature on vulnerable female victims. All victims are dealt with sensitively by our specially trained officers and we take decisive action against suspected offenders.
“A recent example of this heightened public vigilance is a report we received from a concerned member of the public who saw what appeared to be an intoxicated woman in a park and who called us. Officers attended and ensured she was safe.
“This is exactly what we want the public to do to help us to protect vulnerable women.
“Our officers have been visiting businesses across the force area, including taxi firms, hotels, B&Bs, and take-aways, to name but a few, to ask for people’s help.
“This has been well received by all the businesses visited and the vast majority of people support us in our efforts to make our neighbourhoods ‘no go’ areas for offenders who commit these crimes.”
To date, 46 people have been arrested as part of Operation Sanctuary. Approximately 80 vulnerable women and girls have been identified and police, together with partners, are speaking to them over the next few weeks.
Anyone with any information or concerns can contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference Operation Sanctuary, or by ringing the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Advice and support is also available via Victim Support on 0845 277 0977 or Childline on 0800 1111.