NSPCC: 60 offences against children every day

There are an average of 60 sex offences against children recorded every day in England and Wales, a new report has found.

Information gathered by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) found there was more than 21,000 child sex offences recorded last year.

The children’s charity obtained the information through a freedom of information request to all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Announcing the statistics today, the NSPCC said the information showed under-18s were victims of sex crimes – including rape, gross indecency and incest – on 21,618 occasions during 2008-09.

The charity warned though that the figures were just those which had been reported, and as such there could be many more cases of abuse going undetected.

NSPCC director of strategy and development Phillip Noyes said: “These figures show just how many children are still being sexually abused every day. It’s a shocking picture – even more so because these are only offences reported to the police. We believe the true extent of the problem is far worse.

“Some of these children are so young they can’t tell anyone what is happening. So it’s vital that adults look out for them and call the NSPCC helpline or contact police and social services if they are concerned.”

One in seven of the children in the report were younger than ten and 1,000 were five and under. Also, in more than three out of four cases the offences were committed against ten to 17-year-olds (17,091). The statistics show girls were six times more likely than boys to be the victims of a sex crime, and the number of incidents where the offender knew the victim was four times higher than those involving strangers.

The NSPCC is now calling on the government to publish annual police data showing the accurate number and ages of victims of sex abuse.