Surge in child sexual abuse, charity warns

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NEARLY 500 child sex offence victims were aged 10 or under last year, it has been revealed.

It comes as sex offences against children in Hampshire have increased by 700, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.

In 2014-15 there were 1,734 sex crimes against children reported, the Freedom of Information request figures show.

That is compared with 1,033 in the year previous.

A total of 496 were aged 10 and under. And 1,411 were female victims, compared with 315 male.

In England and Wales, the figure increased by a third to 41,457 over the same period with recorded crimes including rape, grooming and sexual assault.

The NSPCC warns that online grooming is a major problem, although the increase may also be due to police may improving recording crime and survivors may be willing to speak out following high-profile cases.

The charity wants government to increase funding for support services for children who suffer abuse.

Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head of service for London and the south east said: ‘This dramatic rise is deeply worrying and shows just how extensive this appalling crime has become, claiming many victims every day, every hour.

‘Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s mental health.

‘It can leave them anxious, depressed and even suicidal.’

Hampshire police’s Detective Chief Inspector Tim Rowlandson said: ‘Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime and we have worked hard in recent years to give victims the confidence and support they need to come forward.’

He said the increase was due to more reporting.

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