Figures on child sex offences published and NSPCC says more needs to be done to avert "nationwide crisis"
PUBLISHED: 16:56 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:57 29 October 2019
Tom Hull Photography 2017
Cambridgeshire police recorded 661 sexual offences against children in 2018/19, new figures have revealed.
Nationally, offences are said to be at an "all-time high" and according to the NSPCC sex crimes against children are recorded by police forces every seven minutes.
The numbers in Cambridgeshire are down from the previous year (751) and up slightly from 2015/16 (608) and down from the 2014/15 figure of 1,142.
A new report shows 76,204 crimes against children were recorded in 2018/19, a rise of more than 60 per cent since 2014/15, which has led to the NSPCC calling for transformation of support system for children who have been abused.
Offences include rape, grooming and sexual assault against children and the data shows that where age of victim was provided, 16,773 offences were recorded against children aged under 10.
Children who suffered sexual abuse will often need extensive support but over stretched services are failing to keep pace with demand, and the NSPCC is calling for a radical reshaping of how this support is delivered across the country.
A total of 44 out of 45 police forces across the UK provided the NSPCC with the latest data on sexual offences against under 18s after a Freedom of Information request.
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, "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 over stretched service to service.
"We need a radical rethink in the way we help these young people, otherwise they could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma."
The charity is calling for the provision of specialised services around the country, 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 partnership 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' model connects timely therapy up with the needs of each child, with local NHS services from University College London Hospital and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trusts 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 8 to 17-years-old who used the service showed a significant reduction in psychological and behavioural problems.