Live streaming of child sex abuse on the increase
Experts saw reports of indecent images and videos double on previous years
An NSPCC spokeswoman said: “The evidence the NSPCC has gathered from all police forces in England and Wales shows there are around 20,000 sexual offences against children reported every year and many of the victims are under primary-school age.
“However, we believe this is far from the true situation as many cases are never revealed. And since the Savile sex crimes were revealed, our helpline has experienced an increase in the number of adults reporting cases which happened many years, even decades, earlier.
“While there are cases of children being sexually assaulted by strangers, the vast majority of these offences — around nine out of 10 — are committed by someone the child knows.
“It is crucial that our efforts to protect children from sexual abuse focus on deterrence and prevention and that our focus is the risk to children, both on and offline.”
Policing and criminal justice minister Damian Green said: “These figures are deeply troubling and show how our understanding of child sexual exploitation has greatly improved in recent years. Police are bringing more cases before the courts and significant sentences are being handed down to perpetrators.
“But more needs to be done. CEOP is doing excellent work and we will see its capability strengthened when it is transferred to the National Crime Agency later this year.
“I am leading a new Home Office group which is urgently looking at how we better identify those at risk, create a more victim-focused culture within the police, health and children’s services, improve data-sharing and address cultural barriers to uncovering abuse.
“Together, as communities, we need to ensure these sickening crimes no longer remain hidden.”
Javed Khan, chief executive of independent charity Victim Support, said: “It is sadly no surprise that the threat of child sexual abuse and exploitation is increasing in the UK.
“We know from recent high profile court cases, including in Oxford and Telford, that children and vulnerable adults remain at risk of extreme abuse, corruption and trafficking at the hands of a criminal underworld — creating what can only be described as modern day sexual slavery.
“But the police service must also ask itself some searching questions. It’s first priority is to prevent and detect crime.
“Yet the national threat assessment has had to fill gaps because of inconsistencies in the way forces collect, record and categorise child sex abuse offences.
“It is essential that every dot is joined-up if the most vulnerable in our society are to be protected. ”Every police force must therefore contribute fully and consistently to the national intelligence picture. Only then will we have a true picture of the scale of the problem.”