12:05PM, Friday 14 August 2020
The number of recorded child sex offences in the Thames Valley has increased by 49 per cent over the last five years.
Data revealed in a Freedom of Information request submitted by the NSPCC found that in 2019/20, Thames Valley Police recorded 2,718 offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault, nearly 50 per cent more than the 1,815 offences recorded in 2014/15.
Nationally, 73,518 offences were recorded in 2019/20, with a 57 per cent increase over the last five years.
In cases where gender and age were recorded, girls were four times more likely to be the victims.
Nationally there were 8,000 offences committed against 14-year-olds, making that the most common age group to report offences.
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “Thames Valley Police takes all reports of sexual offences against children seriously and will treat those that come forward to make reports sensitively and with dignity.
“The rise in the number of recorded reports may be attributed to an increase in confidence in the public to report them to the police, as well as an improvement in the way that we record these types of crimes, but also changes in trends of offending.
“The recent COVID-19 lockdown saw an increase in online offending against children.
“In response to this, in May 2020, the force conducted warrants at addresses across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, dedicated to disrupt those who were carrying out online child sexual abuse.
“A total of 37 warrants were completed, with 32 people being arrested. Also, the force seized a total of 419 electronic devices and 24 children were safeguarded.
“The force continues to work closely with our partners in education, health and local authorities through the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards to improve awareness of the signs of child abuse, prevent harm to children, and deliver the best service we can to children who are abused.
“Keeping children safe from all harm is all of our responsibility, and we rely on information from members of the public to identify crimes and keep all victims safe.
“Thames Valley Police is absolutely committed to tackling the issues of child sexual offences.
If you come across a child you believe could be a victim of abuse contact the police on 101.
“Always call 999 if you believe they are at immediate risk from harm. Alternatively, you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.”
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