Nine Asian men have been arrested on suspicion of rape, inciting child prostitution, allowing a premises to be used for prostitution and sexual activity with a child.

As many as 14 girls, aged between 13 and 15, allege they were fed drugs and alcohol by the group before being taken to different houses for sex.

The men were aged between 20 and 40, and from Heywood and Rochdale in Greater Manchester. They have been releaased on bail pending further enquiries.

Rochdale divisional commander, Chief Superintendent John O’Hare, told Sky News: “This is an extremely complex investigation and the welfare or the victims is absolutely paramount.

He urged parents and carers to be vigilant, saying child exploitation is something they “should be aware of”.

“Parents and carers should talk to their children, take an interest in what they are doing and warn them not to go off with strangers.

The arrests were made last month but have only just become public knowledge.

The news comes on the back of an announcement that an England-wide investigation will be launched into the grooming of vulnerable young girls for sex.

A specialist child abuse unit will lead the fight against the trend of ruthless men targeting youngsters as young as 12, plying them with drink and drugs.

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw recently described some of the white girl victims as ‘easy meat’ for gangs – often, but not exclusively, made up of Pakistani men – who trawl the streets looking for sex.

He was speaking after the after the jailing of Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat, whose Derby-based gang abused girls aged between 12 and 18.

The men picked the girls up in what Saddique referred to as the ‘Rape Rover’, before getting them intoxicated on cocaine and alcohol and transporting them for abuse in houses and hotel rooms.

And, a senior police officer told the Daily Mail the failure of police and social services to address the ‘ethnicity factor’, and highlight patterns of mass sexual abuse by older Asian men on white girls, was possibly due to a fear of being branded racist.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Edwards of West Mercia Police said: ‘These girls are being passed around and used as meat. To stop this type of crime you need to start talking about it, but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor.’