‘Alarming’ rise in school sex offences in Suffolk revealed

Stock image. Child pictured is a model. Picture: NSPCC

Stock image. Child pictured is a model. Picture: NSPCC - Credit: Archant

A shocking rise in the number of sexual offences reported in Suffolk schools has been revealed.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Bridger. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

New figures obtained from Suffolk Constabulary under the Freedom of Information act have shown that reports in the number of sexual crime reported at schools across Suffolk has nearly trebled since 2016, with secondary schools seeing the bulk of the increases.

The schools, which teach pupils between the ages of 12 and 16, saw reports of sexual offences increase by 245% in 2018 - up to 44, from 18 in 2017.

There were also 16 reports of sexual offences at primary schools during the year.

Head of crime, safeguarding and incident nanagement Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: "Suffolk police take reports of sexual offences extremely seriously, especially when children are involved and they are all thoroughly investigated.

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When a sexual offence takes place our first concern will be with the welfare of the child and ensuring safeguarding procedures are in place.

"In any event the concerns of the victim are always at the forefront of our policing and whatever the conclusion to an investigation it will only be done so after careful consideration.

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"It should be noted that an apparent increase in these offences recently reflects national trends and can be largely attributed to increased confidence of child victims to report assaults to the public agencies involved and changes in crime recording practices."

Of the 81 incidents reported during 2018, only two cases resulted in a charge, a summons or a postal requisition.

Sexual offences are notoriously difficult to find those responsible with a lack of evidence often a stumbling block.

An NSPCC spokesperson for the East of England said: "The number of sexual offences taking place inside school gates where parents rightly expect that their children are kept safe is very alarming.

"It's clear that sexual abuse and harassment of children by other children is a hugely pressing problem and one which young people are increasingly turning to Childline about.

"The rise in offences shows how important it is that compulsory relationships and sex education teaches children to recognise what constitutes abuse and harassment and focuses on what makes for a healthy relationship.

"Teachers must be supported to ensure that victims understand they are not to blame, and the whole school needs to be involved in developing strong safeguarding policies."

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