A TAKEAWAY worker has been charged with sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

Muhammad Abdullah, 57, has been charged in connection with an alleged sexual assault on August 1, 2019.

He is due to appear before at Burnley Magistrates Court on April 21.

Abdullah's arrest came 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 in January 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 also arrested on suspicion of an immigration offence. He was later transferred to the Immigration Service.

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.

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