Police vow to use ‘every power’ to clamp down on child sex offences across county
PUBLISHED: 08:03 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:03 21 February 2018
The number of child sex offences recorded by Essex Police rose to 1,531 last year, according to the NSPCC, increasing from 1,449 offences recorded the previous year.
New figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request to police across the UK found officers recorded crimes including rape, sexual assault and grooming – with 13 offences recorded against babies below the age of one in Essex.
A total of 480 crimes were recorded against children aged ten and under, while 138 of these crimes were perpetrated against children aged four and under.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child’s life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed, or 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 to rebuild their lives. “These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children. To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of our society, and today’s news is positive, as much of the increase can be attributed to growing public confidence in the police response.
“It is imperative for people to be aware that we will use every power available for us to investigate and bring to justice those who perpetrate crimes against children.
“Our specialist teams – Child Abuse Investigation teams (CAIT), Cyber Crime Unit and the Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) – continue to work hard to protect and safeguard victims and proactively target offenders, bringing them to justice.”
Nationally there were a record 64,667 child sex offences recorded by UK police in 2016/17, up 15% on the previous year with an offence recorded on average every eight minutes.
One in ten of these offences were flagged as having an online element – a 59 per cent increase on the previous year.
The NSPCC believes the dramatic increase could be down to police forces improving recording methods, survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases and online groomers becoming a significant problem with predators able to reach hundreds of children.
If you have information about child sex offences, call 101 and ask to speak to a specialist officer within our child abuse investigation teams.
You can also report crimes anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.