SEVEN people arrested after three brothers went missing have been bailed by police pending further enquiries.

Northumbria Police launched a nationwide search for the boys, aged 15, 12, and ten, failed to return to their Sunderland foster home from a bike trip on Monday evening of last week.

Officers are investigating whether the incident was an attempt to repatriate the children to their natural parents, who are from eastern Europe.

Loading article content

The boys were found in Lancashire on Friday and were returned to the North-East.

Police arrested a 37-year-old man was in Enfield, North London.

The search moved to Birmingham, where the boys are believed to have arrived on the Wednesday, and a man, aged 34, who is believed to be a relative, and a 39-year-old woman were arrested.

The arrests led officers to Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, were the boys were found and where two men aged 47 and 22, and a woman, aged 23, were arrested. A 41-year-old man was also arrested in Newcastle.