Number of child sex offences recorded in region rises
The number of child sex offences recorded in the West Midlands and Staffordshire has doubled in the last five years, new figures show.
A total of 5,064 child sex offences were recorded in the region last year.
This is 107 per cent more than the 2,441 offences recorded by West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police in 2014/15, according to the NSPCC.
There was a total of 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019/20 – up 57 per cent in the five years since 2014/15. This equates to more than 200 offences, on average, every day last year.
Nationally, 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 ten, while 449 offences were recorded against babies yet to reach their first birthday.
A total of 44 out of 45 police forces across the UK provided the NSPCC with the latest data on sexual offences against under 18s after a Freedom of Information request.
The charity said the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and urged the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.
The strategy was announced by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid at the NSPCC’s ‘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”.
The strategy is yet to be published.
The NSPCC is calling for the needs of children and young people to be at the centre of how authorities respond to child sexual abuse, with a focus on effective prevention and victims having access to timely and specialist support.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless 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.
“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.”
The call comes as an NSPCC report found contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family tripled during lockdown.
The report published, ‘The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on child welfare: sexual abuse’, shows there were an average of 23 contacts to Childline per week about child sexual abuse in the home, up threefold since March 23 when lockdown was announced.
Some children told Childline that sexual abuse had become more frequent during lockdown, as they were spending more time with their abuser.
The NSPCC wants the anticipated Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to bring Government departments, including the Home Office, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice, together to join up efforts to prevent sexual abuse across society.
Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000. Adult victims of non-recent sexual abuse can also get in touch for support.
Childline is available for young people on 0800 1111 or at childline.org.uk
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