FIVE men have been arrested in police raids as part of a probe into sexual offences and harassment.
The raids were carried out this morning at addresses in Peterlee, Easington Village and Easington Colliery, as well as in New Brancepeth and Langley Moor to the west of Durham City, as part of an operation by Durham Constabulary.
Two addresses in Easington Street and another in Seaside Lane in Easington Colliery, and one in Herton Close in Peterlee, were among them.
Five men, aged between 26 and 34, were arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and harassment. They were being interviewed by detectives today.
Superintendent Andy Huddleston, of Durham Constabulary, said: “This operation comes on the back of information from local residents.
“We would like to thank them for their help and support and reassure them that an extensive investigation is under way.
“I hope this operation reassures victims of sexual abuse and violence that they can contact us in confidence, and all steps will be taken to bring offenders to justice.
“I would also wish to highlight that for victims of sexual abuse there is support available to you, whether or not you report it to the police. The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre offers confidential support and advice.” As part of their appeal for information, police also released a video of one of the raids being carried out in Easington Street (above).
A police presence was seen in Seaside Lane as inquiries were carried out yesterday.
The Echo understands a number of addresses were the subject of searches and witnesses reported seeing forensic officers go into properties after the raids.
The Meadows helps men and women with face-to-face and telephone support, and offers forensic medical examination, advice, support, counselling and sexual health screening.
It can be reached on 301 8554.
Anyone with information can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.