NSPCC calls for more resources to protect children from sex abuse in Cambs
Cambs police say child protection is a force priority
Child sex offences recorded by Cambridgeshire police increased to 746 last year, according to new figures released under a Freedom of Information request.
The NSPCC request revealed that the number of offences recorded in 2016/17 increased by 23 per cent from the previous year when 608 offences were recorded.
Officers across the UK recorded crimes including rape, sexual assault and grooming – with eight offences recorded against babies aged one and under in Cambridgeshire.
A total of 262 crimes were recorded in the county against children aged 10 and under, while 65 of these were undertaken against children aged four and under.
While better recording of offences is one of the reasons for the increase, the total number of sex offences committed against children is unknown, as more children may not have come forward out of fear or embarrassment, or may not even realise they have been abused.
The NSPCC is now calling for the government to direct more resources to ensure high-quality training and support is available to frontline police officers to help raise awareness of safeguarding procedures and tackle child sex offences, especially online.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child’s life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed, or even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn to rebuild their lives.
“These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children. To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line.”
Detective Inspector Andrea Warren, of Cambridgeshire police, said training is already an important part of the force’s work, helping officers to spot warning signs while ongoing campaign work has been raising public awareness of abuse and encouraging people to report concerns.
She added: “Child protection is a force priority. We do all we can to investigate abuse in all its forms and safeguard the victims.
“We have a dedicated unit to investigate child abuse and in the coming months we will see an increase in the number of officers in the department to support investigations.”