Lancashire sees rise in child sex offence reports

Stuart Hall arriving at Preston Crown Court in June Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The number of reported sexual offences against children to the police force that brought disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall to justice has risen by nearly a third this year.

Lancashire Constabulary received 467 such complaints from April to August this year, compared to a total of 353 in the corresponding period in 2012.

Allegations of both historic and current sex crimes against under-16s rose at a similar rate within the increase, said the force's head of public protection.

We have seen a significant rise in the last few months.I attribute that to a number of reasons. One is in relation to the work that we have done locally and nationally that has hopefully encouraged children who have been abused, who may now well be in adulthood, to come forward to tell us what has occurred in order for us to help them and bring their offenders to justice.Also there is the proactive work that we do with our teams, particularly around the policing of the internet.

On May 2, Hall's catalogue of sexual offences against children as young as nine first became public knowledge when he pleaded guilty. He was jailed at Preston Crown for 15 months before his sentence was later doubled to 30 months at the Court of Appeal.

Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley said Lancashire's hard work in tackling child sexual exploitation had hopefully encouraged victims to come forward.

Lone white males continue to be the most common offenders of CSE in Lancashire but the force has acknowledged that in the east of the county there has been a disproportionate number of Pakistani heritage males committing such offences in groups.

It is very much a high priority for us in terms of firstly gathering intelligence of organised crime groups and gangs who are often known for other types of criminality, but in those that we know are seeking to exploit and groom children they will rise right to the top of our targeted list in order to ensure that we effectively use resources to target those individuals.

Efforts to raise awareness of the issue with local Muslim communities will continue, according to officers.

Police say the approach to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation is long term.

Detectives want anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, sexually abused, groomed or exploited to come forward and contact them.

"We are determined to stop children being abused and exploited. To prevent harm to those being abused and to help them get out of the exploitative relationship they are in, to bring to justice to all those who commit such abhorrent crimes and to ensure that the public are confident to come forward when they require our help."The public quite rightly expects us to protect children from being exploited and that is exactly what we will continue to deliver."

A live web-chat is also taking place about the issue of internet safety. Details can be found on the Lancashire Constabulary website.