Suffolk: Large rise in reports of child sex abuse

CHILD sex abuse allegations have risen by nearly 50% in Suffolk since 2008, according to police figures.

Two years ago officers investigated reports that 253 children - an average of 22 a month - had been abused.

In 2009 the number went up to 308, while this year 276 cases were reported from January to September inclusive, averaging out at 31 new victims per month.

More than 80 of the children involved were aged nine or under, with 17 of those below four years old.

Detectives said they have noticed an increase in the number of people coming forward to report abuse which happened many years ago.

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Police also believe greater confidence in the way these type of cases are handled, and a cohesive approach between organisations, have been major factors the increase.

Detective Superintendent Alan Caton, head of public protection for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Every case is taken extremely seriously, and involves sensitive and discreet partnership working.

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“There are very strict guidelines that we work towards in safeguarding children. We have learned many lessons over the years from high-profile cases.

“People increasingly have confidence to come forward and report things to us.

“We are also getting an increase in the number of people contacting us with complaints about historic abuse.

“I would like to assure people that if they do come to us they will be listened to and their complaint will be taken seriously.

“There are huge emotional scars left on people who have been traumatised as victims of sexual abuse. There are many support services out there, and we can signpost people in their direction if we know they have the ability to deal with their particular needs.”

More than 160 people were charged between January 2009 and the end of September this year with sexually abusing children in Suffolk.

The eldest person was an 83-year-old man, while the youngest were two 13 year olds.

One of the most high-profile cases this year ended with a paedophile former Suffolk headteacher Derek Slade being jailed at Ipswich Crown Court for a total of 21 years.

His crimes included three counts of buggery and 19 indecent assaults. He was also convicted of six cases of actual bodily harm, 17 offences of child pornography and five further assaults, as well as possessing a false passport.

The attacks involved 12 boys at his school and took place between 1978 and 1983.

At the time Slade, now 61, of Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, was head of St George’s School in Great Finborough near Stowmarket, and at Wicklewood in Norfolk.

Anyone who wants to report child abuse should telephone Suffolk Constabulary on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 088 555111.

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