Eight people have been arrested in police operations targeting child sexual exploitation (CSE) in south west London.

The arrests came amid the Metropolitan Police's Operation Harbour, with detectives from the force's Predatory Offender Unit targeting locations in Kingston, Richmond, Merton and Wandsworth.

Police said the eight arrests were made for "a variety of offences investigated by detectives in our Community Safety Unit, Sapphire and Child Abuse Investigation Teams", adding:

"One notable success includes the arrest of a male wanted for the offence of rape. The enquiry involved joint work between detectives, the Marine Unit and Dog units in order to bring the individual into custody."

An image released by the police's SW BCU alongside news of the arrests showed officers aboard a police boat traversing a stretch of the Thames as the operation played out.

A report released by the Home Office in December last year found that cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), of which CSE is a subset, are on the increase in the UK.

It reported that, "at a minimum", 15 per cent of girls and 5 per cent of boys experience some form of child sexual abuse, while "the majority of abuse remains hidden".

Additionally, the report said: "Over recent years, we have seen steep increases in the reporting of child sexual abuse offences to the police. In the year to March 2020, over 83,300 child sexual abuse offences were recorded by police, an increase of nearly 270 per cent since 2013..."

One method police are rolling out to combat CSA and CSE at present is known as the 'Ask for Angela Initiative', a scheme that promotes the discreet code word which visitors to bars, pubs and venues can to use to ask for assistance from staff if they feel at risk while out.

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