Charlene team make fresh arrests

New CCTV footage showing Charlene Downes was released last month
New CCTV footage showing Charlene Downes was released last month

Police have today arrested three men on suspicion of historical sex offences.

Detectives looking into the disappearance and murder of Blackpool schoolgirl Charlene Downes in 2003 made the arrests as part of their wider investigation into child sexual exploitation in the resort around that time.

There is no suggestion these latest arrests are directly connected to Charlene’s murder.

Two men, aged 29 and 44, were arrested at addresses in Blackburn and Wesham. A 34-year-old man was produced from prison.

The 34-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of rape. The other two are suspected of aiding and abetting rape.

The offences were allegedly committed between 2009 and 2010 and the victim was a 23-year-old woman.

These are the latest in a string of arrests made by the team investigating Charlene’s murder. As the inquiry has progressed its scope has broadened to look at the problem of child sexual exploitation in Blackpool.

So far, none of the arrests made by the team this year are thought to have any direct links to Charlene.

The 14-year-old was last seen in Blackpool on Saturday, November 1, 2003.

Despite a £100,000 reward on offer for information leading to the conviction of her killer or killers, or the recovery of her body, nobody has ever been brought to justice.

In June, detectives arrested two men on suspicion of historic sex offences.

Kashif Gul, 39, of Foxhall Road, Blackpool, is charged with rape, attempted rape, gross indecency with a child and indecency with a child. He is due to go on trial next week.

A 50-year-old man from Blackpool arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and taking indecent images of a child and was bailed but is now wanted after failing to answer his bail.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers.org. Information can also be emailed to charlenedownesinvestigation@lancashire.pnn.police.uk