Recorded sexual offences against children have reached an all-time high, data obtained by the NSPCC has revealed.
There were 76,204 recorded offences including rape, grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2018/19 – an average of one every seven minutes.
Analysis of the data also reveals that where age of victim was provided, 16,773 offences were recorded nationally against children aged ten and under, with 341 of the offences against babies under the age of one.
In Nottinghamshire, police have recorded a 61 per cent rise in sexual offences against children over the last four years, with 1,519 being recorded in 2018/19, compared to 942 in 2014/15.
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.
The NSPCC is now calling for a radical reshaping of how support is delivered across the country.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “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 overstretched 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.
Nottinghamshire Police statistics year on year:
2014/15 - 942 sexual offences recorded against children
2015/16 - 1,092 sexual offences recorded against children
2016/17 - 1,308 sexual offences recorded against children
2017/18 - 1,597 sexual offences recorded against children
2018/19 - 1,519 sexual offences recorded against children
A NSPCC spokesman added: "Higher recorded sex offences do not necessarily reflect high prevalence of sex offence crimes, but could be explained by better recording, greater awareness of what abuse is, and survivors feeling more confident in coming forward."
Detective Superintendent Andy Gowan, who is the force’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Nottinghamshire Police takes child abuse very seriously and is committed to disrupting the activities of potential offenders, as well as thoroughly investigating reports made to us.
“In recent years we have increased the resources into the investigation of child abuse, including non-recent offences. We conducted Operation Equinox, an investigation into non-recent abuse, and worked alongside the national enquiry IICSA, which increased awareness and confidence of people to come forward and report offences. This has led to an increase in the number of crimes being reported to us.
“We continue to work closely with our partners to improve knowledge, support survivors and safeguard vulnerable children in our community.
“The force has trained all its front line officers on spotting the signs of vulnerability and on Adverse Childhood Experiences. Our latest Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services inspection rated us as ‘good’ at protecting vulnerable people.
“We will continue to invest in the support of child victims and make sure that people feel confident to report these offences to the police.”