SIX men were arrested this morning as part of an investigation into child sex exploitation and drug trafficking which includes allegations of rape.

Police officers carried out a number of raids this morning at seven homes and three businesses (February 8) and the men are now in custody.

Superintendent Kevin Purcell said: "We take any report of child sexual exploitation and drugs trafficking offences extremely seriously and today's policing activity demonstrates our determination to investigate those who are suspected of being involved in offences against children and young people.

"We understand that that this is a very emotive issue and that the community may have questions. Local officers will be carrying out reassurance patrols within the area and I would encourage anyone with any concerns to speak to them. As I'm sure people will appreciate, as this is an ongoing investigation there may be information we aren't able to discuss, but we will provide updates as and when we are able to.

"I have spoken with key community leaders and local councillors, who are working with us to support and reassure the community. I'd like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding this morning whilst the warrants were conducted."

A 19-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to supply.

A 20-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of rape of a female aged 16 or over and assault.

A 23-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of rape of a female aged 16 or over, conspiring with others to arrange or facilitate sexual exploitation of a child, arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to sexual exploitation and causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

A 24-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of conspiring with others to arrange or facilitate sexual exploitation of a child and arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to sexual exploitation.

A 25-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a female aged 13 or over, conspiring with others to arrange or facilitate sexual exploitation of a child and arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to sexual exploitation.

A 25-year-old man from Worcester was arrested on suspicion of conspiring with others to arrange or facilitate sexual exploitation of a child, arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to sexual exploitation, controlling coercive behaviour and assault.

If anyone has any concerns relating to child sexual exploitation, they are encouraged to call West Mercia Police on 101.

Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or via their website.