A NORTH Durham man will face trial for an alleged sexual offence following a wide-reaching police inquiry into sexual offences against vulnerable women and girls.

Gurhan Sayan, 44, formerly of Plunkett Terrace, Chester-le-Street, will appear at Newcastle Crown Court in August after being charged with sexual assault.

The news comes as one further arrest was made this week as part of Northumbria Police’s Operation Sanctuary - bringing the total number of arrests to 57 men and two women.

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Operation Sanctuary was launched on January 27 this year and since that date six people have been charged with various sexual offences.

Officers have identified about 80 women and girls who are victims or potential complainants and we are working with partners to make contact with them all.

Northumbria Police Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: "Our priority is to speak to all those women and girls we have identified to establish if they are a victim, a witness or are not part of the investigation.

“This has to be done carefully and in conjunction with our professional partners and is a slow process, often involving several meetings with an individual before the circumstances can be established.

"As the investigation progresses what we are seeing is more members of the public prepared to share information about concerns they may have.

“Some of these incidents may well form part of the Operation Sanctuary investigation and some may be investigated separately but they are all important to us and I want to reassure the public that we will take all such information seriously and will investigate it.

He added: "The superb response we have had demonstrates that local people support us to ensure our communities are "no go" areas for such criminal activity."

Anyone with any information or concerns is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference Operation Sanctuary, or independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.

Advice and support is also available through Victim Support on 0845-277 -977 or Childline on 0800-1111.