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Suffolk: Savile factor sees child abuse reports increase by one third

PUBLISHED: 09:52 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:52 13 January 2014

Jimmy Savile. Picture: Jim James/PA Wire

Jimmy Savile. Picture: Jim James/PA Wire

Reports of sexual abuse against young children have risen by more than a third in Suffolk, with police pointing to the impact of the Jimmy Savile investigation as a major factor.

Allegations of sexual abuse committed against children aged below 11 rose by 34% in a year in the county, from 91 in 2011/12 to 126 in 2012/13. Nationwide the increase was 20%.

Detective Superintendent David Cutler, from Suffolk Constabulary, said the rise can “primarily be attributed” to the impact that high profile cases, including the Savile probe, have had.

The figures, unveiled under Freedom of Information laws, also found that out of 403 sex crimes recorded against children under 18 by Suffolk Constabulary last year, some 346 (86%) were against girls.

Last month it was reported how historic child sex abuse allegations had also risen by 55% since Savile was unmasked as a paedophile.

Det Sup Cutler said: “The 34% increase from 2011/12 to 2012/2013 equates to 32 crimes, 23 of which relate to historic offences of one year or more, where the victim is likely to now be an adult.

“This shows that since the Savile case more people have been prompted to report historic abuse and that there is an increased confidence in the police and wider criminal justice system that their reports will be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.”

In the 12 months after ITV’s Exposure documentary The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was aired on October 3, 2012, Suffolk police received 134 reports of historic child abuse. This compares to 86 reports in the year before the programme.

The disgraced broadcaster died in October 2011, but his grave crimes only came to light the following year.

A Suffolk police spokesman explained the force has dedicated teams of investigators and officers specially trained to deal with victims of such crimes.

“These teams are experienced in dealing with the sensitive and distressing nature of sex offences,” he said.

“Sexual abuse against children is an appalling offence and we would support any campaign that raises awareness and helps to protect children.”

Colin Peak, regional head of services at the NSPCC, which publishes the new figures today, described the research as “disturbing”.

He said: “Sexual abuse continues to be a terrible scar on our society which will not heal by itself.

“The police figures are disturbing, particularly as many of the victims are so young.

“It is a startling fact that most children are abused by someone they know so it is vital that we communicate to children that it is not right for anyone to touch the places that are private to them, no matter who they are.”

He added the findings highlighted an “urgent need” to tack the problem from an early age.

“Parents and carers can play an important role by ensuring their children are armed with the knowledge to recognise the wrong kind of behaviour and keep themselves safe,” he added.

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