NSPCC reveals child sex crimes in Bedfordshire
Police in Bedfordshire recorded more than 200 sex offences against children in one year, a child protection charity has revealed.
The incidents included rape, incest and gross indecency.
The NSPCC used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain this data from all 43 police forces in England and Wales - for the third year running.
The figures, for 2009-10, show a rise in the number of recorded offences across England and Wales from 20,698 in 2007-08 to 21,618 in 2008-09 and 23,390 in 2009-10.
Most reports concerned children aged 12-15 years old. However, six victims in the region were pre-school age and 35 were aged 11 or under.
Dan Russell NSPCC regional head of service for Bedfordshire said: “Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children. But many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later.
“The rise in recorded sex offences against children is a real concern and we need to find ways to help victims and change the behaviour of young offenders.
“It’s clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders.
“This year the NSPCC is launching two UK-wide programmes to help prevent young people from sexually harming others. A third programme will test different therapies for helping children recover from sex abuse.
“We urge everyone to be vigilant and report any concerns they have about a child.”