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Commissioner makes fresh appeal after arrests

27 June, 2016

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of historic sex offences after detectives investigating the murder of Blackpool schoolgirl Charlene Downes uncovered evidence identifying other potential victims of abuse.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw made a fresh appeal for information following the arrests, which are not directly connected to the death of Charlene, who was 14 when she disappeared in 2003.

The Commissioner’s £100,000 reward for information that help bring her killer or killers to justice is still on offer. Evidence gathered so far has led to other suspected crimes and offenders being identified.

Mr Grunshaw said: “I have promised to do whatever I can to help Lancashire Police get justice for Charlene and her family. That is why I am offering a significant reward for information that helps them find out who killed her.

“Someone somewhere has information about this horrific crime and I would urge them to do the right thing and tell police what they know so Charlene’s family can finally get the answers they have been waiting 13 years for.

“We know Charlene was a victim of sexual abuse before she died and sadly hers was not an isolated case. More potential victims have been identified as a result of this wide-ranging investigation and police will continue to act on any new information that comes to light.

“I am committed to protecting vulnerable young people and supporting victims of crime no matter how long ago the offences may have taken place. I hope these arrests will give people confidence to come forward, safe in the knowledge they will be listened to and taken seriously.”

The two men, aged 39 and 50 and both from Blackpool, were arrested on Monday June 27. The offences were allegedly committed in the early 2000s and relate to two girls aged 14 or 15 at the time.

The arrests have been made by the team of detectives investigating the disappearance of Charlene Downes in Blackpool 2003 and her subsequent murder, although there is no suggestion that these latest arrests are directly connected.

Detective Superintendent Andy Webster, senior investigating officer, said: “We remain committed to finding the killer or killers of Charlene and bringing them to justice and we have a team of detectives and staff dedicated solely to this investigation.

“As part of our inquiries we are also focussing on the wider issue of child sexual exploitation in Blackpool at around the time of Charlene’s disappearance and we have identified a number of people who could potentially be victims.

“Despite the passage of time, I would like to appeal directly both to those who may know or have heard what happened to Charlene, but also to anyone who may have been a victim of abuse to come forward and contact us.

“I firmly believe that there are people who know what happened to Charlene but have not come forward to speak to the police. You may have been present when she was murdered or may simply have information about how she was killed and what happened to her body. For whatever reasons, you may have chosen not to speak out previously, but as we seek to lift the lid on what happened your information is vital to take the case forward.

“If your reluctance is due to fear of reprisals, I would still urge you to contact us. We will ensure that every measure is taken to ensure your safety but the first step requires you to speak to us. Also, if you are afraid you could incriminate yourself, let me assure you that our objective is to find Charlene’s killer or killers.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting log number 0345 of Monday, June 27th or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers.org they can email: charlenedownesinvestigation@lancashire.pnn.police.uk

For further information about the case visit the Lancashire Police website.

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