A TAKEAWAY worker has been arrested as part of a police operation into child sexual and criminal exploitation.

Police visited six fast food businesses across Pendle as part of the multi-agency Operation Latimer, which also focussed on food hygiene, health and safety and fire safety regulation compliance.

As part of the checks which took place on Thursday evening at businesses in the Leeds Road, Manchester Road, Scotland Road and Broadway areas of Nelson and the Burnley Road area of Brierfield, a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of an immigration offence. He was taken to Burnley Police Station for questioning, along with the 57-year-old man arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child.

Although led by the police’s engage team, the operation included members of the fire service, Pendle Council licensing and environmental health departments, social services and neighbourhood policing teams.

Above one takeaway, officers found two double beds – one in a room housing CCTV equipment and another in a room with a fridge – and the business was temporarily closed until the beds were removed on fire safety grounds. One business was found to have no valid licence to sell food, while another was reprimanded over its food hygiene.

Some businesses were found to have breached fire safety regulations and were given notices to improve. They will be subject to further inspections in the coming weeks. Others were found to be breaching their licence conditions.

Det Insp Martin Melvin, who leads the engage team, said the operation had been a success and they would be doing further multi-agency operations to proactively tackle the sexual and criminal exploitation of children.

He said: “It has been a huge success. We have two in custody – one on suspicion of immigration offences and one on suspicion of sexually assaulting a young girl. We have achieved what we had set out to do so with our partner agencies, who have also had a successful evening.

“Operation Latimer will be an ongoing, frequent operation involving multi-agency staff across East Lancashire. Anyone involved in child exploitation should be looking over their shoulder because we will proactively hunt them down.”

Anyone with concerns about child sexual or criminal exploitation, call the engage team on 01254 353525 or 999 in an emergency.