Police investigating allegations of sexual offences against young men in Sussex have received a substantial amount of new information from members of the public since two arrests were made on Tuesday, November 13.
An 80-year-old man was arrested at his home address near Langport, Somerset, on suspicion of eight sexual offences in East Sussex and in one case elsewhere, almost all during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was released at his home that afternoon on medical advice and police intend to interview him at a later date.
The offences were allegedly committed against eight boys and young men, all of whom were at time in their late teens or early twenties, except one who was 12 when the alleged offending occurred in the late 1970s.
And a 67-year-old man was arrested on the same morning at his home address near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on suspicion of two separate sexual offences against two boys aged 17 and 18 at the time, in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983. He was interviewed in Sussex and released on police bail late on Thursday, November 15, until Thursday 29 November while enquiries continue.
However over the two days since the two arrests took place, a further ten people have come forward alleging that sexual offences were committed against them, seven by the 80-year-old and three by the 67-year-old, mainly in Sussex, during a period ranging from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. The men were all also in their late teens or early twenties at the time, with the exception of one who was 12.
A number of other people have also come forward over the past 48 hours, offering other potentially useful information although not alleging offences against them.
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes of Sussex Police, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are very interested to see that so many people have contacted us since Tuesday, and every report is being followed up. Anyone else who wishes to contact us is encouraged to do so by calling Sussex Police via 101 and quoting Operation Dunhill. Calls are treated with great sensitivity.
“The force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step is taken to investigate whenever appropriate. Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences.”
The arrests resulted from a review and subsequent investigation over the past six months by a team of Sussex Police detectives. The investigation follows receipt by Sussex Police in May this year from Lambeth Palace of two reports from a Church of England safeguarding consultant, which contain reviews of Church files relating to matters relating to the safeguarding of young people in the Chichester Diocese during the 1980s and early 1990s. Police also received the files themselves.
The investigation, which relates to alleged offences not previously reported to Sussex Police, has taken six months so far and is continuing. This is a very complex enquiry, in the course of which many people, all now adults, have had to be traced, together with other witnesses and records from a wide variety of sources, and there has been consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
There are still no allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there continues to be nothing to suggest that any young people are currently at risk.
A special helpline is also available for anyone who feels they need support or advice whenever learning of this or any similar cases. The helpline is manned by staff at the NSPCC and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls will be handled sensitively and confidentially.
Where appropriate, callers will be referred to specially trained police officers and, if required, a range of local counselling services, who are ready to offer expert support to those who come forward.
The helpline number is 0800 389 5344.