Hampshire police see 53 per cent rise in child sexual offences in five years
THE COUNTY’S police force has recorded a 53 per cent increase in child sexual offences in five years, new figures have revealed.
Hampshire Constabulary recorded 2,661 offences against children in 2019/20 - an average of 51 a week - compared to 1,734 in 2014/15.
Of those in 2019/20, 2,048 were females, 599 males and unknown in 14 cases.
Nationally child sexual offences jumped by 57 per cent in five years, according to data obtained by the NSPCC, and the children’s charity is calling for urgent action to tackle the issue.
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.’
Across the UK there were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in 2019/20.
Where gender and age were recorded, girls were four times as likely to be victims.
The NSPCC has urged the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.
Mr Wanless added: ‘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.’
It comes as an NSPCC report found calls from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family had tripled during lockdown.
The report read: ‘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 as they were spending more time with their abuser in lockdown.
Detective Chief Inspector Liam Davies said sexual offences in Hampshire had seen a rise in child sexual offences of the last five years, in line with national figures trends.
‘These increases include non-recent abuse,’ he said. ‘In many of these cases successful high profile investigations both nationally and locally have given victims the confidence to report historic child abuse.
‘We also recognise the increased risk during lockdown periods where protective factors may be removed for children. We have therefore worked both internally and with partners to highlight the importance of making ‘every child contact count’. This includes recognising potential warning signs.’
For anyone concerned about a child, call 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