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Sex crimes committed by adults in position of trust doubles in East of England, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 08:13 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:13 29 November 2017

The NSPCC have called on the Government to extend Position of Trust laws (stock image). Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The NSPCC have called on the Government to extend Position of Trust laws (stock image). Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Sex crimes committed by adults in positions of trust have more than doubled across the East of England over the last three years, new figures have revealed.

According to the Office of National Statistics the number of offences committed by professionals such as teachers, care staff and youth justice workers targeting 16 and 17-year-olds in their care has risen from 20 in 2014 to 53 in the year up to June.

In Suffolk, the figure has jumped from three in 2014 to six this year while the number increased in Essex from one in 2014 to four this year.

Across the whole of England and Wales there was an 82% rise over the last four years, with almost 1,000 sex crimes committed by adults in positions of trust since 2014.

At present the UK’s Position of Trust laws do not apply to other adults who work with children, although the Government has this month announced it will extend the law to sports coaches.

However, the NSPCC is urging the Government to extend these laws further to include religious leaders and adults working in the arts or with outdoor activities through its Trust to Lead campaign.

The charity warns that the current ‘loophole’ means adults can gain regular and intensive contact with children in extra curricular activities, enabling them to groom them from a young age with the aim of abusing that relationship as soon as the child turns 16.

The NSPCC’s chief executive Peter Wanless, said: “It’s hard to believe that the law protects 16 and 17-year-old children from being preyed upon in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch or on the stage.

“We know that some adult youth workers spend their years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes round, they target them for sex.

“Extending Position of Trust laws to sports coaches is an important step in the right direction which will help protect more children from this kind of abuse.

“But to stop there would be a missed opportunity.

“Government must close this loophole to protect children from other adults who use their authority to exploit them.”

For more information on the NSPCC campaign visit www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigns/trust-to-lead/

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