An official document was leaked online by Northumbria Police that identifies “grooming hotspots” in Newcastle.
The list mentions specific businesses and locations in the city such as gyms, public open spaces and takeaways have been named as some of the popular “grooming hotspots”.
The police force said it was not a formal list of crime-related incidents but highlighted the popular areas which they believe will help safeguarding issues. Some sites were earmarked as “frequented by young people whilst reported as absent or missing”.
Northumbria Police said it was aware of “a post currently circulating on social media about community intelligence and sexual exploitation ‘hotspots”. The areas had been identified as “potential vulnerable areas for these types of crimes”.
The list said gifts can include a range of items, including clothes, mobile phones and jewellery. The types of drugs used as “currency” ranged from cannabis to cocaine, with the most common drug being MCAT.
Newcastle Central Labour MP Chi Onwurah said the fact that the list was leaked was “obviously a problem”. Despite this, she identified an “intelligence lead approach” to the policing and welcomed the list. She then went on to say: “It’s far better to stop exploitation from happening than to pursue those criminals afterwards.”
The children’s charity the NSPCC said: “The fact that groomers are believed to be targeting young people at specific locations shows the challenge authorities face in trying to protect children”.
At Newcastle Crown Court last August, one woman and 17 men were convicted of rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution and of plying girls with alcohol and drugs and forcing them to have sex. The following month another four men were convicted by the same court for their part in a gang which sexually exploited girls as young as 13.