New figures show 439 children in Cambridgeshire were victims of sex crimes last year

LAST year, 439 children in Cambridgeshire were victims of sex crimes including rape, incest and abuse through prostitution and pornography, according to new figures from the NSPCC.

One hundred and twenty three of the victims had not reached secondary school age and 46 were five and under. However, the majority of the offences, 314, were reported against 11-17 year olds.

The NSPCC says that more than 400 sexual assaults against children were reported to police forces in England and Wales every week last year (2010-2011) with fewer than one in ten resulting in a conviction.

For the last four years the NSPCC has obtained figures through a Freedom of Information request and during this period there has been no significant decrease in reported offences. The number of convictions in England and Wales has risen by around one-quarter from 1,747 in 2007 to 2,135 in 2010.

The NSPCC, which has 41 sexual abuse programmes across the UK, is now calling for:

• Schools and parents to educate children about staying safe and reporting abuse.

• The Government to support the provision of therapeutic services for all child victims of sexual offences and treatment programmes for offenders.

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• The public to be aware of abuse and how to prevent it.

Dan Russell, regional head of service for north London and East of England at the NSPCC, said: “Many of these distressing offences are committed on extremely young and helpless children, who may not understand what is happening to them and are unable to ask for help.

“The NSPCC is doing what it can by using information like this from the police to tailor our treatment services- different approaches are needed depending on the age of the child.

“We are also pioneering new programmes across our region to tackle sexual abuse of children, including our Schools Service which aims to visit every primary school in the county over two years.

“But we can’t tackle this problem by ourselves. It requires a major effort from government and the public to give children the protection they need and to provide more therapeutic programmes so the young victims can reduce the debilitating affects of abuse and start to rebuild their lives.”

If adults have concerns about a child they should immediately contact social services, police or call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 where trained counsellors are on call 24 hours a day.

Children should contact ChildLine on 0800 1111. Last year its volunteers carried out more than 16,000 counselling sessions for children across the UK for sexual abuse.

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