A total of 21 men, including several from East Lancashire, have been arrested in connection with child sexual exploitation, which includes the rape of child.

In the last month, police in Greater Manchester investigating reports of child sexual exploitation made a total of 13 arrests, in addition to eight earlier arrests, as part of an ongoing operation into the crimes, which took place between 2016 and 2018.

On Thursday October 15, officers from GMP's Bolton division attended addresses in Bolton, Bury and Chorley where five men aged between 19 and 20 were arrested on suspicion of engaging in sexual activity with a female child.

These five arrests follow action taken on Tuesday October 6, where eight men were taken to custody, also on suspicion of offences ranging from rape of a female child and engaging in sexual activity with a female child.

Eight arrests had already been made prior to this in relation to the operation - launched in June 2018 following reports of offences committed against teenage girls.

All 21 men - aged between 18 and 58 - have been released on bail with conditions.

The 11 victims have been, and are continuing to be, supported by GMP and partner agencies.

Detective Inspector Dave Sinclair, of GMP's Bolton CID, said: "The action we have taken in the last few weeks has been a significant step in our operation into child sexual exploitation in Bolton and I can assure the public that our work does not stop until we bring each one of those responsible to justice.

"This investigation is very much ongoing but anyone with any information or concerns can contact police knowing that all information will be treated with the strictest confidence."

Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 4198 quoting Operation Pavarotti.

Details can also be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.