VICTIMS of sexual abuse are being encouraged to come forward.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Holden said Cumbria Police have been involved in a year long investigation alongside the National Crime Agency looking into allegations of an Asian grooming gang operating in Barrow.

A subsequent independent review found ‘no evidence’ to support the claims.

If you have been the victim of a serious sexual assault then please report it by calling 101.

Support is available from The Bridgeway.

The expert team of staff work to give you as much information as possible on the options available to you. They want to help you make your own informed decisions about your care and will work to support you in this, whatever your decisions may be. Everyone who contacts The Bridgeway is treated with respect and not judged. All staff are specially trained to work with people who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

They are contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year on 0808 118 6432

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He said the investigation was subjected to an independent peer review in March this year, which was conducted by experts nationally qualified and experienced in investigating sexual abuse physical violence. 

"Whilst that review did give us some minor recommendations, the outcome was that the investigation had been conducted with utmost integrity, transparency and professionalism," he said. 

"More importantly, that our approach has been very robust and professional. 

"So I want to reassure people that this is not something that we’ve ignored or otherwise dismissed.  It’s something we’ve taken extremely seriously to ensure that our investigation is completely transparent and professional.  What I would say is, when the question is asked, is there an organised gang of Asian men in Barrow, conducting abuse or otherwise exploitation against individuals?

"Our investigation has shown that has not been corroborated."

He added: "Here in Cumbria Constabulary we’re not complacent, we are humble, and if individuals think that they’ve got any information that suggests that’s the scenario or any other information around abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, then they must contact us. 

"We will take them very seriously and we’ll do our utmost to investigate them, and more importantly, safeguarding and support victims of crime. We have a really good relationship with our partner agencies and we’ve been really well supported with children’s social care, adult social care and other partner agencies, and committed to making sure that we provide an excellent service for any such victims of crime."