A senior detective who investigated the Newcastle grooming gang said the abusers underestimated their victims' desire to get justice.
Speaking after sentences totalling more than 180 years were handed down for 17 people at Newcastle Crown Court, Detective Superintendent Steve Barron (pictured) said: "These offenders targeted these women because of their vulnerabilities.
"They hugely underestimated their strength and determination to seek justice, they thought no-one would believe them.
"We believed them, as did the jury.
"I have spoken to some of these victims and they are lovely people.
"They have had a tough life and to then go through courts is so difficult for them.
"It has just been brilliant to see how their bravery is now showing justice."
The detective said more work will be done in local communities to protect vulnerable people.
He said: "This is not something the public should feel alarmed about, but more reassured that we are proactively seeking victims and working with communities to eradicate this behaviour of offending.
"We want to ensure there is a repugnant stigma associated with sexual exploitation in all communities and in particular against individuals who think this treatment of women and girls is in any way acceptable.
"Protecting vulnerable people is our absolute priority and it is what we are here to do."
Police chief who used child rapist as informant receives 'outpouring of support'
A police chief who took the controversial decision to use a child rapist as an informant against a grooming gang in Newcastle said he has received hundreds of messages of support from the public.
Northumbria Chief Constable Steve Ashman said it had always been a moral question, not a legal one, whether to pay the man who can only be identified as XY almost £10,000 for information.
Mr Ashman was speaking after all but one member of a grooming gang was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court for their roles in recruiting vulnerable young girls, giving them drugs and then persuading or forcing them into sex with them or other, older men.
The decision to use XY in Operation Shelter, despite him being convicted of drugging and raping a girl, was controversial when the details emerged last month, following a series of trials.
Mr Chapman said: "When reflecting upon the morality of the decision, I think it's important to take account of public opinion.
"If the moral compass was spinning when it was first made public a few weeks ago, when the verdicts were handed out, it's absolutely fixed now and it's fixed in our favour.
"Never in all of my time of policing have I witnessed such an outpouring of public support for what we have done.
"We have been flooded with hundreds and hundreds of messages of support for the decisions that we took.
"If I had any doubt, and I didn't personally, but if I had any doubt whether it was the right thing to do, then I'm absolutely determined now that it was."
He insisted using XY - who was not tasked to go to parties - had let police to catch dangerous men, and stopped some girls from being raped.
Mr Ashman said: "Some of it was absolutely pivotal in putting some very, very dangerous people behind bars, and more importantly, some of it was directly responsible for our finding vulnerable girls.
"If he hadn't told us the information we would've found them and it doesn't take too much of an imagination to work out what might have happened to them."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Humphries / PA Wire.