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1,800 child sex offences recorded by West Mercia Police

By Sue Austin | Crime | Published:

More than 1,800 child sex offences were recorded by West Mercia Police last year.

The number of offences has increased by 54 per cent over five years.

The NSPCC fears the figure could rise this year with Childline counselling sessions about sexual abuse in the family tripling during lockdown.

The children's charity said there were 73,500 child sex offences, or 200 every day, recorded by UK police in 2019/20.

It is urging the Government to publish its Child Sexual Abuse Strategy that puts victims and prevention at its core.

Recorded offences included rape, online grooming and sexual assault.

West Mercia Police Head of Crime and Vulnerability, Chief Superintendent Damian Barratt, said: “Our absolute priority is safeguarding those who are vulnerable and there is no doubt that this includes children, over the past few years we have worked diligently with our partner agencies to make sure we protect those who are at risk of harm.

“Over the past few years more than 18,000 people across the counties covered by West Mercia Police have been trained to know the signs of exploitation and vulnerability and what to do if they suspect a child or vulnerable person is at risk. This training has been delivered to professionals whose role brings them into contact with children and young people and encourages them to report any concerns they may have.

Devastating

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“We have teams dedicated to protecting vulnerable people with officers specially trained to deal with the sensitivities of these complex investigations and have teams who work on child exploitation across the force with officers working closely with safeguarding partners to proactively investigate those exploiting children and young people through child sexual exploitation and wider criminal exploitation.

"We would always encourage anyone who is or has been a victim to report this regardless of when the offence took place. Even if they do not wish to pursue the offence through the criminal justice system we can ensure we put them in contact with support networks.”

All but one of the 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.

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."

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The call comes as an NSPCC report found contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family tripled during lockdown; an average of 23 a week - 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.

Childline is available for young people on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk. To report abuse contact police online or by calling 101.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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