Recorded sexual offences against children have reached an all-time high, data obtained by the NSPCC has revealed.
There were 76,204 recorded offences including rape, grooming and sexual assault against youngsters in the UK in 2018/19 – an average of one every seven minutes.
In the North West, police in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside recorded a total of 7,741 crimes.
Analysis of the data from details handed over by forces under the Freedom of Information Act also reveals that where age of victim was provided, 16,773 offences were recorded against children aged 10 and under, with 341 of the offences against babies.
Children who suffered sexual abuse will often need extensive support but overstretched services are failing to keep pace with demand, and the NSPCC is calling for a radical reshaping of how this support is delivered.
CEO Peter Wanless said: “Record numbers of child sexual offences means we are facing a nationwide crisis in the help available for tens of thousands of children.
“These children are bravely disclosing what happened to them but in too many cases there is not enough timely, joined up and child-friendly support. Instead they are shunted from overstretched service to service.
“We need a radical rethink, otherwise these young people could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma.”
The charity is calling for the provision of specialised services, with an emphasis on early joined up support from police, local NHS services, children’s services and advocacy for children who have experienced sexual abuse, offered in child-friendly spaces.
Such a service is delivered in The Lighthouse in Camden, where all medical, advocacy, social care, police and therapeutic services are available to children and their families in one place.
This one-stop-shop connects timely therapy up with the needs of each child, with NHS services delivering in partnership with the NSPCC’s Letting the
Future In (LTFI) service. LTFI provides therapeutic support for children who have been sexually abused. Young people aged eight to 17 who used the service showed a significant reduction in psychological and behavioural problems.