A FURTHER five people have today (Wedneday, January 29) been arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of teenage girlds and young adults in the North-East .

It brings to 26 the number of people detained by Northumbria Police as part of Operation Sanctuary.

A police spokesman said three addresses have been searched in Newcastle and South Tyneside today. The four men were arrested are on suspicion of conspiracy to rape.

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Nineteen men and two women arrested on Monday and yesteray have been bailed pending further inquiries.

Police said some of the victims were in care when the alleged offending took place and that their priority was to protect them and ensure their safety.

The alleged offenders are said to be from a range of communities and police have urged against speculating about their background.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Gary Calvert said: "Our priorities remain to arrest those believed to be responsible for these offences and to offer support to safeguard those victims already identified, while encouraging anyone else who believes they may know or have been a victim themselves to talk to us.

"Our stage of the operation will continue over the next few days and we would still urge the public to come forward and help us."

The police said the investigation, which was launched a few weeks ago, was sparked after they received information from an alleged victim.