Recorded child sex offences across Northamptonshire rose by 30 per cent from previous year
The number of child sex offences recorded by police in Northamptonshire rose to 868 last year according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.
A total of 274 crimes were recorded against children aged ten and while 55 of these crimes were perpetrated against children who were too young to even attend primary school.
Northamptonshire Police recorded crimes against children that included rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation and the number of offences has increased by 30 per cent from the previous year.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “This steep rise lays bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal. Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.
“The Government must commit funds to early intervention that better help these children who through no fault of their own are enduring so much pain.”
The NSPCC believes a number of reasons could explain the dramatic increase, including police forces improving recording methods, survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases and online grooming becoming a major problem with predators reaching multiple children.
The total number of sex offences committed is unknown, as more children may not have come forward because they are frightened, embarrassed, or do not realise that they have been abused.
To cope with the numbers of children coming forward, the NSPCC is calling for specialist training for police investigating online child abuse, effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders, and investment in early intervention services to help children recover.
Supt Steve Lingley, head of safeguarding at Northamptonshire Police, said the increase in the number of offences in the county reflects the greater confidence the public have in the force's ability to deal effectively "with both current and non-recent sexual abuse".
"We’ve done a great deal of work to encourage people to report offences, no matter when they happened," he said.
“In addition, offenders are increasingly using the internet and technology to harm children and we have increased resources into tackling this area of crime.
“We have a specialist team of officers dedicated to catching people who download and distribute indecent images of children.
“Our Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), which was set up at the start of 2014, has rapidly grown to deal with the increase in cases.
“As a result, the number of warrants issued for online sexual offences has increased by 330 per cent since 2014.
“The team work alongside colleagues in our RISE (Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation) team, the Cyber Crime Unit, proactive officers and our Tactical Support Teams – which creates one large proactive child safeguarding unit.
“Tackling child sexual abuse in all its forms is an absolute priority for Northamptonshire Police and the Force continues to invest heavily in resources aimed at combating perpetrators and supporting victims.
"In addition, the MOSOVO (Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders) team manages these offenders post-conviction.”
Anybody with any concerns about a child should call Northamptonshire Police on 101, or the Child Safeguarding Team on 0300 126 1000