The number of sexual offences against children recorded by police in England and Wales soared by more than a third last year (2013-14).
The figures are revealed today as the NSPCC launches its third state of the nation annual report How Safe Are Our Children? 1at the charity’s annual conference in London.
Nationally, a total of 31,238 offences – 85 a day – including rape, sexual assault and grooming, were reported to police.
The majority of victims were aged 12 to 16, although more than one in four (8,282) were younger than eleven.
Among these were 2,895 aged five and under – including 94 babies.2 I
In 2012-13 there were 22,654 offences against children under -18 recorded by 41 police forces across the UK.
Latest figures from North Yorkshire Police show there has been a slight increase in recorded sex offences against children from 342 in 2012-13 to 393 recorded last year (2013-14).
Nationally it’s not clear why the number of offences has risen so dramatically. Greater awareness may be giving more victims the courage to come forward, including those reporting historical cases, or police forces have improved their recording methods. Last year, the NSPCC helpline received approximately 100 contacts from people across the North Yorkshire police force area about sexual abuse, almost 50 of which were so serious that they were referred on immediately to the police or children’s services.
However, what it does mean, is that more children are speaking out, only to find little support to help them recover from abuse.
Last year the NSPCC helped 2,400 young victims through its therapeutic recovery programmes, including those programmes offered from the charity’s service centre in York, but there are not enough services available across the UK to ensure all children who have experienced abuse get the support they need.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said:
These figures are disturbing and clearly illustrate child sexual abuse is a continuing and widespread problem that needs urgent action.
But we know this is still only a fraction of the true number of victims because some endure an agonising wait of many years before telling anyone – and others never reveal what has happened to them.
It’s time to throw down the gauntlet to government which has to ensure all sexual abuse victims get specialist treatment to help them recover. By the end of this current Parliament there should be no children living in the shadow of abuse.
Detective Superintendent Nigel Costello of North Yorkshire Police, said:
The increase in reported child sex offences shows that more people have confidence in the police and are coming forward to report these devastating crimes.
However, we know that child sexual abuse is under-reported and we encourage anyone who has suffered in the past or is suffering now, to report what is happening.
We have officers who are specially trained to investigate these very sensitive investigations and victims should not hesitate to come forward. We work with many other agencies who can provide support to help you deal with what has happened. Even if the offences happened many years ago and it may no longer be possible to take criminal action, you should still report it as you can still get support, advice and counselling that can help you move on with your life.
Children’s safety is of paramount importance and it is everyone’s responsibility to protect them. If you are being abused, have been in the past, or suspect a child is being abused, please do not hesitate to call.
If you don’t want to call the police, you can contact Bridge House, the York and North Yorkshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre where you can access everything under one roof in confidence and with respect and sensitivity. However, if you are in immediate danger, you should always call 999.