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Sexual offences against children rise 60 per cent in five years

Child sexual offences have risen by almost 60 per cent in five years, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

New figures obtained by the children’s charity show that police recorded more than 200 child sex offences, on average, every day last year. There were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019/20 – up 57% in the 5 years since 2014/15.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said: “The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.

The statistics showed that where gender and age were recorded:

- Girls were four times as likely to be victims

- There were more than 8,000 offences committed against 14-year-olds, making it the most common age group to report offences

- There were 12,374 sex crimes recorded against children under 10

- 449 offences were recorded against babies yet to reach their first birthday.

WillisPalmer has frequently raised concerns about children being hidden from services and professionals during lockdown and being subjected to abuse. That is why we have launched our Children’s Charter urging the government to support schools, children’s services and mental health services as children go back to school to ensure they get identified and signposted to support urgently.

The NSPCC said that the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and the children’s charity is urging the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.

The strategy was announced by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid at our ‘How Safe are our Children’ conference in June last year. In May the Home Office said it “will shortly publish the first of its kind cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling this abhorrent crime,” yet the strategy has yet to be published.

The children’s charity is calling for:

- The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to bring government departments together to join up efforts to prevent sexual abuse across society.

- The strategy must respond to the needs of children and young people who have experienced abuse so they're able to access timely, specialist support that meets their needs and helps them recover.

- It should also include Child House initiatives where health, policing, social work, therapeutic and other services provide support to children under one roof.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said: “Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.

“We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover,” he concluded.

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