Published Saturday, 14 September 2013
Paul Givan has warned the public to be prepared for further revelations. (© UTV)
As exclusively revealed by UTV on Friday, the police have launched a major child sexual exploitation investigation involving at least 22 young alleged victims based in Northern Ireland.
Health Minister Edwin Poots, told UTV more than one gang of criminals were involved in the alleged abuse.
Young and vulnerable people, some in care, are thought to have been involved in the scandal.
However, it is understood the incidents took place outside of those institutions.
On Monday the Health and Justice ministers and their respective committees are to meet at Stormont with investigating PSNI officers.
Justice Committee Chairman Paul Givan said the scale of the scandal could be shocking.
He told UTV: "I was horrified and shocked that this type of abuse - the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and young people - could be taking place in Northern Ireland."
I think the public will be shocked at the numbers of people under investigation by police.
Justice Committee Chairman Paul Givan
"What we need to know is how this has happened, the extent of what has been going on and what the police are doing to fully investigate this so that those responsible can be brought to justice," the DUP Lagan Valley MLA added.
"Of course there are concerns for the victims and we need to know they are getting the right support at this time.
"And we want to instil confidence in other victims so that they can come forward and provide information to help bring the perpetrators before the courts."
"At this stage there are 22 victims that could have been sexually exploited.
"And at Monday's meeting I trust that the Justice Minister, with the police, will be able to tell the public how many perpetrators are involved.
"I believe the number is significant and the public need to be prepared because I think it will be shocking."
Police uncovered the alleged abuse as they began to look back at cases of children going missing from care over the past 18 months.
A team of police officers and social workers are investigating. They will also receive the support of children's charity Barnardo's.
© UTV News