Up to 200 men from across the country may have been involved in a child sex ring working out of Telford – with a “huge percentage of them” still unidentified, police said today.
More than 100 girls were identified by officers in Operation Chalice as being targeted by the ring, although it is not known precisely how many were victims of sexual abuse.
Superintendent Nav Malik, police commander in Telford, today revealed the horrific scale of the child sex abuse.
Mr Malik said: “In terms of offenders, some victims were exploited by so many men – possibly as many as 200 were involved across a wide geographic area including the West Midlands and Yorkshire – that they were unable to identify a huge percentage of them due to their physical and mental state when the offences were committed.
“Sadly, it also proved impossible for us to match much of the DNA evidence we had with individuals that were known to us or were able to trace.
“Although we identified just over 100 girls who may have been targeted we cannot say definitively that they were all victims of sexual abuse.
“A significant number of these girls may simply have been witnesses and may not actually have fallen victim to the full grooming process.
“Many of the girls we identified did not want to engage with us while, sadly, others were unable to recall events in a way that meant we could proceed further with their cases with CPS.”
Seven men were eventually convicted after a second set of trials in which judges heard distressing evidence from four young women, who were aged 13 to 16 when they were abused between 2007 and 2009.
Details of the trials involving the men were revealed early this month when legal issues surrounding the reporting of the inquiry were resolved.
The leading players in the network of abusers – almost all of Pakistani origin – were brothers Ahdel and Mubarek Ali, from Regent Street, Wellington.
Both men, who variously sexually abused, raped, trafficked for prostitution and controlled child prostitution, involving four of the teenage victims, received lengthy statements after an eight-week trial.
Ahdel received a 26 year extended sentence and Mubarek was given a 22 year sentence.
After the conviction of the brothers, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards from West Mercia Police, said: “It has been a very difficult journey. There is a massive sense of relief.
“When the judge talks about the fact the men have lied, not the girls – that sends a great message for the girls who have put up with so much.”