Figures reveal three child sex offences are reported every day in Essex
- Credit: Archant
Three child sex offences are reported every day in Essex according to new figures obtained by the NSPCC.
The latest statistics for 2014-2015, which were collected through a freedom of information request by the charity, show that reported child sex offences in the county rose to 1,293, an increase of 361 cases on last year.
Essex Police also revealed that there were 1028 female victims, compared to 256 male, and a total of 352 were aged 10 and under – 108 of which were too young to go to school.
In England and Wales, the number of reported cases, including rape, grooming and sexual assault, increased by a third to 41,457.
The charity’s It’s Time campaign is now calling for the Government to increase funding for support services for children who have suffered abuse.
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Colin Peak, NSPCC head of service for the east of England, says although it is encouraging that more child sex offences are now being reported, the figures still paint a worrying picture in the county.
He said: “The increase in reported cases could be down to a few factors. Due to a number of high profile cases and the press coverage, young people now feel more confident in coming forward and have a greater awareness of what is happening to them.
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“Also, cases of online grooming have greatly increased and that is becoming a major problem. Police are now more aware of these types of cases and are becoming more vigilant, but there is a lot more work to be done.
“It is encouraging that more people are coming forward and reporting the offences but the dramatic rise is very worrying and shows how extensive these appalling crimes have become.”
Mr Peak said that the recent HMIC report, which graded Essex Police as ‘unsatisfactory’ in their work with vulnerable people, highlights that the county’s force need to do more to protect and support victims.
He said: “Clearly, they are doing something, the recording methods have certainly improved. But there is a lot more work to be done in terms of training officers to handle such cases.
“But we are calling on the Government to ringfence money for victims and make the mental health of abused children a priority, so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society can start to recover.”
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Essex Police takes all reports of sexual offences seriously. We have seen an increase in recorded offences, including those involving children, which is in line with the national picture.
“The increase is a result of victims being confident to come forward and report them to us. Some of the offences reported to us are made by adult survivors of child abuse and there have been some high profile cases involving historic abuse that have encouraged victims to come forward.
“But whether alleged abuse happened yesterday or decades ago, it will still be recorded as child abuse and it is our duty to investigate all these reports.
“If you have information about such crimes or are yourself a victim or a survivor of sexual abuse as a child, we would ask you to come forward. Please contact us directly on 101 and ask to speak to a specialist officer within our child abuse investigation teams.”