Suffolk and Essex police see rise in reports of child sex offences
The number of reported sex offences against children has risen in Suffolk and Essex, new figures have revealed.
Suffolk police recorded a total of 773 child sex offences last year, up 28% from 608 in 2016/17.
The figures, obtained by the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request, found a total of 140 crimes were recorded against children under the age of ten in Suffolk while 35 were perpetrated against children aged four and under. One offence was recorded against a baby under the age of one.
Essex Police also saw an increase in the number of reported offences, from 1,449 in 2016/17 to 1,531 last year - an increase of almost 6%.
Of these, 480 were against children under ten and 138 committed against children aged four and under. A total of 13 were recorded against babies below the age of one.
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Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “This dramatic rise is extremely concerning and shows just how extensive child sexual abuse is.
“These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children.
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“To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line.”
Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, from Suffolk police, said responding to reports of abuse is a high priority.
He said: “We are still seeing an increase in the number of reports being made to us relating to non-recent child abuse.
“The public is also becoming more aware of potential risks that children face from on-line dangers and so we are in part encouraged that more reports are being made to us so that we can ensure robust action is taken. The numbers also reflect greater confidence victims and their families have in coming forward and reporting what has happened to them.”
David Hockley, chief executive of child sexual abuse charity Fresh Start New Beginnings, added: “The rise will be directly linked to the way police record their crime but absolutely, people feel more able to come forward.
“I think now people perceive they will be believed, more than five or ten years ago, and are more likely to let police know.”
Essex Police were unavailable for comment.