Police record 61% rise of child sexual offences in Sussex in five years

  • Nationally child sexual offences jump 57% in five years as NSPCC calls for urgent action to tackle crisis of abuse
  • More than 1,900 child sex offences recorded by Sussex Police in 2019/20 – the equivalent to 37 offences a week

·       Childline counselling sessions about sexual abuse in the family triple during lockdown 

·       NSPCC urges Government to publish its Child Sexual Abuse Strategy that puts victims and prevention at its core 

Sussex Police has recorded a 61% rise in child sexual offences in the five years since 2014/15, new figures from the NSPCC reveal.

The force recorded 1,952 offences against children in 2019/20 –  an average of 40 a week – compared to 1,212 in 2014/15.

Where gender and age were recorded, girls were four times as likely to be victims. There were more than 8,000 offences committed against 14-year-olds, making it the most common age group to report offences. 

There were 12,374 sex crimes recorded against children under ten, while 449 offences were recorded against babies yet to reach their first birthday. 

A total of 44 out of 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. 

The charity said the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and urged the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy. 

The strategy was announced by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid at the NSPCC’s ‘How Safe are our Children’ conference in June last year.

In May the Home Office said it “will shortly publish the first of its kind cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling this abhorrent crime”.

The strategy has yet to be published. 

The NSPCC is calling for the needs of children and young people to be at the centre of how authorities respond to child sexual abuse, with a focus on effective prevention and victims having access to timely and specialist support.  

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 neededto prevent abuseand to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.  

“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.”  

The call comes as an NSPCC report found contacts from young people to Childline about sexual abuse in the family tripled during lockdown.

The report published today, ‘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 23rd 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.

A third of counselling sessions were about abuse in the family that happened over a year ago, with many children talking about it for the first time.

The NSPCC wants the anticipated Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to bring Government departments, including the Home Office, Department for Education and Ministry of Justice, together to join up efforts to prevent sexual abuse across society. 

It must also respond to the needs of children and young people who have experienced abuse so they are able to access timely, specialist support that meets their needs and helps them recover. This should include through Child House initiatives where health, policing, social work, therapeutic and other services provide support to children under one roof.

Anyone concerned about a child can contact 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 www.childline.org.uk