Sophie Doughty, ChronicleLive, January 12, 2018
Six people who left offensive comments on social media about the Operation Shelter sex gang have been tracked down by police.
Northumbria Police posted a series of articles on its fAcebook page following the conviction of 18 people after an investigation into sex exploitation in Newcastle’s West End.
However, the force received a complaint after a number of comments were left on the page, referring to the race and religion of the perpetrators in the case.
An investigation was launched and police have now traced six people who were behind the posts deemed to be offensive and potentially criminal.
Officers have now spoken to these individuals and warned them about their behaviour.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “As a result of a complaint, we can confirm we looked into a number of comments posted on the force’s Facebook page.
“Following an investigation, which has now concluded, we spoke to two males as voluntary attenders and visited a further four people in their homes, and provided them with words of advice.
“All expressed their remorse and stated that the intention of their comments was not to cause concern or to be offensive and have acknowledged the words of advice provided.”
Seventeen men and one woman have now been jailed as part of Northumbria Police’s Operation Shelter investigation.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the men would prey on troubled females and lure them to parties where they were plied with drugs and booze before being used for sex.
The offenders were all Asian or Eastern European descent, while their victims were all white British, a pattern that mirrored similar cases in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford.
The perpetrators were convicted after a series of linked trials.
However, the judge placed reporting restrictions on the cases, banning the media from reporting the proceedings until all the trials had concluded.
After the court order was lifted, Northumbria Police published details of the investigation and its outcome on its Facebook page, along with pictures and details of the offenders.
The posts attracted a large number of comments.
ChronicleLive understands that, after receiving a complaint, the force reviewed all the comments and two crimes were recorded – both racially aggravated public order offences.
And it was decided there were eight comments which required action.
Northumbria Police is now issuing a warning to users of its Facebook page offensive comments will not be tolerated.
The spokesman added: “We would like to make it clear that we will not tolerate the posting of offensive remarks and we will take all reasonable steps to remove them and take appropriate action.
“We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people using social media that they should do so responsibly and ensure they do not post anything which could be considered offensive.”