Published Thursday, 28 August 2014
Hundreds of people are potentially involved in the investigation. (© UTV)
As exclusively revealed by UTV last year, an investigation was launched after police reviewed a series of cases involving children going missing from the care system.
It is believed numerous criminal gangs are involved and possibly 100 people with 24 alleged victims identified.
Police believe the majority of the teenage victims were harmed when they went missing from care homes, at times after being plied with presents, drugs or alcohol at house parties.
Some were living at home and were allegedly exploited after going missing for periods.
Many did not realise they were being sexually exploited and still do not view themselves as victims, the police have said.
In the past year detectives have made 17 arrests and conducted 19 searches resulting in two people charged.
Ten people have been reported for offences to the Public Prosecution Service and another five are on police bail pending further investigation.
The PSNI says that an additional 30 arrests have been made over a period of time leading up to September 2013, and that a number of people were charged as a result.
In total, there are 46 separate investigations into the wide scale exploitation, some of which are still ongoing.
In the wake of the revelations Stormont's Health Minister Edwin Poots commissioned the independent inquiry into the cases, appointing former commissioner for children in Scotland, Professor Kathleen Marshall as chair.
She is expected to publish her findings around the end of October and by November at the latest, UTV understands.
The report comes amid damning revelations of child exploitation in Rotherham in England.
At least 1,400 children were sexually exploited from 1997-2013, mainly by gangs of Pakistani heritage.
© UTV News