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Last Updated: Friday, 16 May, 2003, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
'Child prostitutes' trafficked into UK
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Interpol will be involved in the investigation
An international inquiry has been launched after five teenage Africans were discovered abandoned by a suspected human trafficking gang.

The four girls and a boy, aged between 14 and 18, were found in Nottingham and it is believed they were brought to the UK to work as prostitutes.

Local vice detectives have now begun an investigation with Interpol, immigration services and the Metropolitan police.

Detective Inspector Ian Winton, leading the inquiry in Nottingham, said the teenagers had been discovered in the city over the last six months.

He said: "We don't know why these children are in the UK, or why they are in Nottingham.

It is important that we find the people responsible for bringing the children into the country and that we also protect the youngsters
Detective Inspector Ian Winton

"They don't know where they were brought into the country and we can't be sure when.

"The pattern of similar cases suggests they will have been trafficked by an organised criminal gang, who may have had the intention of using them as prostitutes."

He said that the cases were the first reports of child trafficking in Nottingham.

All five children are now being cared for by Nottingham City Council social services and have been put into safe houses.

Seeking asylum

Mr Winton said: "It is important that we find the people responsible for bringing the children into the country and that we also protect the youngsters.

"Our inquiries are at a very early stage and we are continuing to work closely with immigration services to establish more about where these children came from."

Detectives believe that one of the girls has already worked as a vice girl in the South East and said that the group may have been left in Nottingham with the intention of moving them on at a later date.

The children were now being helped to apply for asylum in the UK.

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