Charity made more than 4,600 referrals to police and social services in 2016-17, a ‘deeply worrying’ rise on the previous year
Monday 18 Dec 2017
The number of reported cases of child sexual abuse in the UK rose by almost a third last year, according to NSPCC figures that the charity described as “deeply worrying” but said showed a greater public willingness to report the problem.
The charity said it referred an average of 90 calls a week to police and social services over concerns that a young person had been sexually assaulted. This was an increase of 31% on the year before.
The NSPCC said it made a total of 4,677 referrals UK-wide last year, up from 3,578 in 2015-16. NSPCC Scotland reported the biggest year-on-year increase in referrals from 78 to 265 cases last year.
The figures prompted opposition calls to reverse government funding cuts for child protection.
The NSPCC also reported a further 3,912 contacts where helpline staff gave advice about sexual abuse against young people.
The NSPCC said children will not always realise they are being sexually abused, while non-physical offending can occur through live-streaming.
John Cameron, the head of helplines at the NSPCC, said: “It is deeply worrying that so many children are potentially being exposed to such a devastating experience, but at the same time it also suggests that as a society we are much more alert to the risks and much more willing to come forward and share our concerns. Sexual abuse can do huge damage to a child’s life and, left untreated, will often haunt them long into adulthood.”
The figures were launched to coincide with a Light Up Christmas for Children appeal to help vulnerable young people over the festive period.
Emma Lewell-Buck MP, the shadow minister for children and families, said: “This is the latest evidence that demand for child protection services is going up, just as funding is being cut. The government’s own figures show that spending on children’s services has already fallen by a tenth under the Tories, and we are heading for a £2bn shortfall by 2020. Ministers should cancel their latest multibillion-pound tax break for bankers and start protecting the most vulnerable children instead.”
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Changes in the law needed to protect children
Sex offences committed by adults in positions of trust have increased by more than 80% since 2014.
The number of professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers sexually exploiting 16 and 17 year olds rose to 290 in the year up to June – up from 159 three years ago.
In total, nearly 1,000 crimes have been recorded since 2014.
Rise in Childline counselling sessions to disabled children
23 NOV 2017. In 2016/17, the number of Childline contacts from disabled children and teenagers rose by 13% – with an average of 22 counselling sessions a day https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/news-opinion/disabled-counselling-childline-rise/
Rise in non-recent sex offences recorded against children
15 NOV 2017 Number of non-recent sexual abuse offences recorded by police annually has almost doubled since 2013/14. https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/news-opinion/rise-non-recent-sex-offences-against-children/
NSPCC PRESS RELEASES https://www.nspcc.org.uk/search/?page=1&query=Press%20&order=date
THE PEOPLE’S INDEPENDENT CHILD ABUSE INQUIRY. SCOTLAND