A national children’s charity is calling for swift action after latest figures show the number of recorded incidents of sexual offences against children in Bedfordshire has risen by 64% in one year.
And last year, 37 calls received by the NSPCC’s helpline from people in Bedfordshire about sexual abuse were so serious that they were referred on immediately to the police or children’s services.
The numbers rose from 174 in 2012-2013, to 285 in 2013-2014. The figures are revealed today as the NSPCC launches its third state of the nation annual report, How safe are our children? at the charity’s annual conference in London. The report compiles the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across each of the four nations in the UK.
It’s not clear why the number of offences has risen. Greater awareness may be giving more victims the courage to come forward, including those reporting historical cases, or police forces have improved their recording methods. However it does mean that more children are speaking out, only to find little support to help them recover from abuse.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said: “These figures are disturbing and clearly illustrate child sexual abuse is a continuing and widespread problem that needs urgent action. But we know this is still only a fraction of the true number of victims because some endure an agonising wait of many years before telling anyone – and others never reveal what has happened to them.
“It’s time to throw down the gauntlet to government which has to ensure all sexual abuse victims get specialist treatment to help them recover. By the end of this current Parliament there should be no children living in the shadow of abuse.”