The number of child sex offences reported in Sussex rose to 1,212 in 2014-15 from 838 the previous year according to figures obtained by the NSPCC. There’s now three incidents of sex related crimes against under 16s reported every day in the county. The figures have been obtained by the charity in a freedom of information request to Sussex police force and forces around the country. In England and Wales, the figure soared by a third to 41,457 over the same period with recorded crimes including rape, grooming and sexual assault. These latest statistics from a Freedom of Information request to Sussex Police reveal there were 959 female victims, compared to 253 male. A total of 338 were aged 10 and under – 92 of who were too young to go to school. These figures may only reveal a small part of the whole picture as many children are afraid to speak up. And a recent NSPCC report also revealed that some young victims say they are not believed when they report sex crimes to police. It is unclear why there has been such a staggering increase in recorded offences however there are suggestions:
- Police forces may have improved their recording methods or become more vigilant about sex crimes.
- Survivors might feel encouraged to speak out following high-profile cases and greater awareness.
- Online grooming is becoming a major problem.
With such a dramatic increase in recorded sex crimes, the NSPCC says there has never been a greater need for therapeutic help for victims. The charity’s It’s Time campaign is calling on the government to increase funding for support services for children who have suffered abuse and ring- fence money for these survivors. Colin Peak, NSPCC Regional Head of Service for London & the south east said:
‘This dramatic rise is deeply worrying and shows just how extensive this appalling crime has become, claiming many victims every day, every hour. ‘Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s mental health. It can leave them anxious, depressed and even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn how to handle disturbing emotions and behaviours and rebuild their lives. Our It’s Time Campaign demands that government make the mental health of abused children a priority so that some of the most vulnerable members of our society can start to recover.’
Sussex Police have responded to the figures Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley said:
“All police forces have recorded an increase in sex offences, against adults as well as children, since publicity following the death of Jimmy Savile. “The 5% increase for child sex offences in Sussex for 2013/4 seemed to be at the lower end of forces’ increases. However the pace of reporting has only increased since and we expect that this 2014/5 trend may be found in other forces too. “Some offences are historic, but many are current. We welcome this continued increase in reporting which is giving us a better indication of the underlying issues, and which we also believe reflects at least in part an increasing confidence in victims about coming forward, knowing that reports are taken seriously and that we will work with partners to try to achieve justice wherever possible. “We also agree that there is a need for services to be available to support victims both immediately and in the longer term. “Last year, work with partners enabled the setting up of a Sussex-wide childrens’ Sexual Assault Referral Centre, specialising in support for child victims up to the the age of 14. A Sussex Assault Referrral Centre already helps adult victims and we also work closely with a range of other services including Life Centre and Survivors Network who can offer long term support to all age groups. “In October last year we also brought the investigation of all serious sexual offences into new specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units (SIUs), and this has helped us further develop our co-ordinated response to all sexual offences including the often related issues of child protection and domestic abuse.” “In addition, part of the increase in Council Tax precept for 2016-17, secured by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, (PCC) Katy Bourne, will enable extra staff to be posted into the SIUs during this year. “The precept increase will also enable extra investment in digital forensics to ensure that we can more quickly analyse and retrieve digital information to speed investigations and help protect vulnerable people from sexual and domestic abuse. “And the PCC has funded the post of a child sexual abuse (CSE) analyst, whose intelligence-led role is helping to identify the immediate risks and emerging challenges around CSE, and has been cited as best practice by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).”