The following is a statement on Operation Nautical.
A trial which was due to begin in February in relation to 11 defendants charged in connection with child sexual exploitation offences in Oxfordshire has been dismissed.
At a hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday (25/1), the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) offered no evidence in respect of the trial of men facing charges of sexual offences against children. Not guilty verdicts were recorded for all defendants in on all counts.
TVP was informed that the decision taken was due to evidential reasons; the CPS having determined that there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. The dismissal of the case was not the result of a failure to disclose evidence and the decision was not related to the issue of disclosure.
Following an earlier linked trial at Oxford Crown Court, which concluded on 5 December 2017, a jury acquitted seven defendants of various sexual offences in connection with the same investigation. Not guilty verdicts were recorded against all defendants on all counts.
Senior investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mick Saunders, said: “It was right that the case was brought to court so that a jury could hear and consider the evidence and the defendants could have an opportunity to answer to the case against them. Thames Valley Police respects the decision of the jury.
“Prosecutions are quite properly kept under review and Thames Valley Police accepts the decision of the CPS not to proceed with the second linked trial and to offer no evidence in respect of the defendants in that case.
“We will review the investigation, as we would in all such cases, to identify whether there is any learning for future investigations of child sexual exploitation.
“Thames Valley Police will always take all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously. Specialist officers will continue to work to support victims sensitively and to investigate offences thoroughly. We commend the courage of those who come forward to report abuse and will continue to endeavour to bring to justice those who are responsible for the crimes.”