Child sex offences in Hampshire rise by more than 50% in five years
SEXUAL offences against children have risen 53% in Hampshire over the last five years as the NSPCC calls for urgent action.
Figures released by the children’s charity showed that nationally offences jumped 57% in the same period, with 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault in 2019/20.
Hampshire Constabulary said it recorded 2,661 offences against children in 2019/20 – an average of 51 a week – compared with 1,734 in 2014/15.
The charity said the figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and urged the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.
The strategy was announced by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid in June last year but is yet to be published.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away, and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.
“We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover.”
Hampshire Constabulary’s detective chief inspector Liam Davies said: “These increases include non-recent abuse. In many of these cases successful high-profile investigations both nationally and locally have given victims the confidence to report historic child abuse.
“Specially trained officers and staff work in partnership with colleagues from social care, education, health and other agencies to tackle and prevent offending against children. We also recognise the increased risk during lockdown periods where protective factors may be removed for children.
“We have therefore worked both internally and with partners to highlight the importance of making ‘every child contact count’. This includes recognising potential warning signs.”
Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000. Adult victims of non-recent sexual abuse can also get in touch for support.
Childline is also available for young people on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk