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60 child sex offences a day in Britain


12:00am 4th April 2012
(Updated 6:57am 4th April 2012)

The NSPCC is calling for action to drastically reduce the number of sexual assaults on children after new figures revealed there were more than 400 offences reported to police every week last year (2010-11) with fewer than one in ten resulting in a conviction.

Nationally, of the 23,097 victims. 4,973 hadn't reached secondary school age and almost 1500 were five or under.

However the majority of offences, 14,819, were reported against 11 to 17 year olds.

In North Yorkshire there were 229 victims between 2010 and 2011. 27 were under 8, 94 between 8 and 14 and 108 were aged between 14 to 16.

The figures, obtained by the NSPCC from all 43 police forces in England and Wales, cover various sex crimes, including rape, incest and abuse of children through prostitution and pornography. They reveal more than one in three of all sex crimes are committed against children (at 19,790 the number of girl victims was six times higher than boys which was at  3218.) In 89 cases the gender was not recorded.

The statistics also reveal that 426 of the under 18s had previously been victims of sex offences but only one-third of the forces were able to supply this information.

For the last four years the NSPCC has collated these figures through a Freedom of Information request and during this period there has been no significant decrease in reported offences. Despite the number of convictions rising by around one-quarter from 1,747 in 2007 to 2,135 in 2010 fewer than 10% of offences result in someone being sentenced.

The NSPCC, which has 41 sexual abuse programmes across the UK, is now calling for:     

  • Schools and parents to educate children about staying safe and reporting abuse.
  • The Westminster government to support the provision of therapeutic services for all child victims of sexual offences and treatment programmes for offenders.
  • The public to be aware of abuse and how to prevent it.

Gordon Ratcliffe, Regional Head of Service NSPCC Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

"A concentrated effort has to be made if we are to start reducing this distressing level of offences, many of which are committed on extremely young and helpless children.

"When you have a situation where more than 60 children are being sexually abused every day something is very wrong. The Government has to start treating the situation as seriously as they would if faced with an outbreak of chronic disease.

"We also need a clearer picture of what is happening between an offence being reported and someone appearing in court. The police are doing their best to bring prosecutions but we need to understand why there is such a huge disparity between the two figures. The fact there are repeat offences against some of the children also shows not all are just one-off incidents.

"The NSPCC is doing what it can by using information like this from the police to tailor our treatment services- different approaches are needed depending on the age of the child. We are also pioneering new programmes, including our Schools Service which aims to work with 1.8m seven-to eleven-year-olds over the next four years.

"But we can't tackle this problem by ourselves. It requires a major effort from government and the public to give children the protection they need and to provide more therapeutic programmes so the young victims of abuse can start to rebuild their lives."

If adults have concerns about a child they should immediately contact social services, police or call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 where trained counsellors are on call 24 hours a day.

Children should contact ChildLine on 0800 1111. Last year its volunteers carried out more than 16,000 counselling sessions for sexual abuse.

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