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Local authorities rejected claims of “political correctness” influencing the probe – an accusation that was levelled at Rotherham Council by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary.Steve Ashman, the Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, said a wider investigation throughout the North East called Operation Sanctuary had identified 700 potential victims of sexual exploitation.Gallon, who neighbours say has a same sex partner, has held noisy late night parties involving groups of Asian men.One mum in the block of maisonettes in Newburn, Newcastle, said: 'We have been very concerned about her living here ever since she was charged.'Those of us with kids are very worried by her association with the kind of people she has connections with.'She has men round to her flat and has held noisy parties until late at night, they are always Asian men.'There has been a campaign to get her out but she is still living here two years later.' Another victim, described in court as 'extremely vulnerable' and unable to look after herself, told a jury how she was 19 when she was given cannabis and raped by Abdul Milnoyee. She said: 'They just sit there and have a couple of drinks, have a couple of puffs of cannabis, get up and dance. I need somewhere to go to be safe.'Another neighbour said: 'About two weeks ago [she and her partner] left with suitcases and said they'd be away a while.'It's very frightening knowing she's been living among young families when she's been part of that gang.'Officers were not sure at first whether Gallon was working with the abusers or was one of their victims.
One victim said he took her to a party where she saw another girl, who did not make a complaint to the police, being treated like a slave.
He told that his officers’ work was not impacted by religion, race or nationality, adding: “We’re not politically correct, I don’t care about the background of individuals: we find them, we arrest them and we put them behind bars.” Newcastle City Council’s director or people, Ewen Weir, who is responsible for social services, said he had seen no evidence of racial or religious motivations.
“There are men from all sorts of backgrounds, including white men, in this,” he added.
The scale of the abuse has been compared to similar cases in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford, with the chief executive of Newcastle council warning that exploitation could be “happening in every town and city across the country”.
“What’s different here in Newcastle is that we are going out and looking for it,” Pat Ritchie said.