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Growing confidence in South Yorkshire Police behind increase in reports of child sex offences

Child sex offences are on the up in South Yorkshire
Child sex offences are on the up in South Yorkshire

A growing confidence in South Yorkshire Police and other agencies is believed to behind an increase in child sex offences reported in the county.

Police chiefs believe confidence that the force will take action when reports are made has led to more victims coming forward - resulting in 2,132 child sex offences being logged last year, compared to 1,802 the previous year.

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On average South Yorkshire Police receives six reports of sex offences against children each day.

Figures show that last year 544 victims of sex offences in the county were aged 10 or under.

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There was a rise in the number of offences with an online element to them, with 311 reported last year compared to 229 the year before.

Nationally, 64,667 sexual offences against victims aged under 18 were reported last year - up 15 per cent on the previous year and equating to an average of 177 offences a day.

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Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Bates, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "South Yorkshire mirrors the national trend that has seen an increase in reports of child sexual abuse.

"There are now much more thorough recording processes in place across the country that ensure crimes of child sexual abuse are highlighted and captured, so we have a greater understanding of the scale of this type of offending.

"I also believe that there has been an increase in confidence among victims, survivors and their families in coming forward to the police and other agencies to report this awful crime. We, alongside partner agencies, have worked hard to raise awareness of child sexual abuse – our current campaign highlights the risks of online grooming and exploitation – and to raise public confidence in our response to child sexual abuse.

"In terms of the increase in online offences in particular, changes to legislation mean that we now record incidents where children have shared indecent images with other children as crimes. These cases are often not prosecuted as it isn’t in the public interest to criminalise children, but legally they must now be recorded as criminal offences.

"Again, this gives us a greater understanding of this type of criminality and why our current campaign about online abuse is important, as it highlights to young people the dangers of online grooming, exploitation and abuse.

"We want to reassure victims that we take child sexual abuse incredibly seriously and if you report abuse or exploitation to us, you will be believed and the matter will be investigated, with a multi-agency approach employed to ensure that victims receive the support they need."