Children as young as 12 are being sold for sex in one of Scotland's most deprived areas, it has been claimed.

According to The Times newspaper, locals in the Govanhill area of Glasgow claim they have either being offered Roma children for sex or have been approached outside bars by youngsters themselves.

The paper said that, in September 2015, Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council recorded in minutes that an "issue had been raised regarding child prostitution within Govanhill" and children were seen to be wandering the streets at night.

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Residents of Govanhill - which has the highest Roma population in Scotland - reportedly said more needed to be done to tackle the problem.

Olive Arens, chief executive of Up-2-Us, a charity that works with vulnerable teenagers, told the paper: "The sexual exploitation of Roma children in Govanhill is a long-standing issue and has been for 10 years or more.

"You can see the activity. It is children and adults making deals in huddles. It is very clear what was taking place but nothing ever happened to stop it."

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Police are now set to investigate the claims. Chief superintendent Brian McInulty, Police Scotland's area commander for Glasgow, said Glasgow Child Protection Committee, with numerous statutory and voluntary agencies, has "robust child protection procedures" in place.

He said: "Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a constant threat in all our communities and an area that all our partners are alive to.

"Any suggestion that any of the agencies who are charged with protecting children in Glasgow would not take that responsibility seriously is simply not true.

"That said, we will never be complacent when it comes to the safety of children and whilst we have no information or intelligence to substantiate the concerns described in the article, we will carry out a full investigation into the claims.

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"That will involve us interviewing each of the persons named in the article in order to understand if and why there is a perception of child sexual exploitation in the Govanhill area.

"Our local policing teams work with various partners in Govanhill area and are doing some remarkable work in the local area.

"We have campus officers working within local schools and we work on a daily basis with various partners in the Govanhill hub.

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"In that regard, I would ask anyone with any information concerning the safety of any child in Glasgow to contact the police or social work department and the matter will be thoroughly investigated along with partners.

"All such investigations are dealt with sensitively and involve a full multi-agency response, and a full safety plan is put in place for any victims identified."

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur has called for an emergency statement to Holyrood.

He said: "The claims that this activity is happening are sickening.

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"We urgently need to know what reports have been received by any of the agencies involved in protecting these children and what action was taken as a result."

The Scottish Conservatives said an independent inquiry examining the allegations should be held.

Glasgow MSP Annie Wells said: "It's shocking and heart-breaking to see reports that children are being sold for sex in Govanhill; that concerned community organisations have known about it, yet been unable to do anything about it.

"The Scottish Government must set up an independent inquiry to establish all the facts of this case as a matter of urgency."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "We are fully alert to the risk of child sexual exploitation in Glasgow.

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"This is a form of abuse that can take place in all parts of the city and be found within all communities, regardless of ethnicity.

"This issue is being treated with the utmost seriousness at the highest level within the council.

"When information on alleged incidents of child sexual exploitation is provided to us, we will always act on that information.

"The protection of vulnerable children is at the absolute core of the work we do and racial sensitivities have never been an impediment to how we deal with child sexual exploitation.

"The incidents highlighted today have been looked at by staff and we are not aware of these ever being reported to our support services.

"If people have information about instances of child sexual exploitation then they should report their concerns to police or a social worker."