Child abuse in football: Police receive 400 new referrals

The number of referrals made to a specialist police unit investigating child abuse in football has risen by 40% in three months, ITV News has learned.

Figures show 1,432 referrals were made to Operation Hydrant as of 31 March, a rise of more than 400 since the last set of data released in mid January. The number of referrals relates to the individual pieces of intelligence being examined, rather than the number of victims.

A Freedom of Information request by a victim of abuse in football also revealed that 300 clubs are now being investigated.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) also revealed a third of allegations were made in the North West.

In January, the NPCC reported that it had identified 526 potential victims aged between four and 20 when the alleged abuse took place - and had received allegations made against 184 individuals. Those figures have not been updated but the NPCC - which brings police forces together to help coordinate investigations - said it plans to release new data later this month.

The scandal of historic child abuse in football engulfed the sport at the end of last year, when former Sheffield United star Andy Woodward spoke out about the abuse he suffered as a youngster.

An inquiry by the Football Association began at the start of December and is expected to last around a year to 18 months.