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West Country police forces seeing 'worrying rise' in reports of sexual offences against children says NSPCC

Recorded sexual offences against children have reached an all-time high, according to figures revealed today by the NSPCC.

Police forces in the West Country recorded 5,515 sexual offences against children in 2018/19, a number which has steadily increased over the last five years.

Devon and Cornwall Police logged 2,463 offences last year - up from 1,358 in 2014/15.

Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset Police all saw increases, while the figures in Wiltshire fell slightly.

The NSPCC said the numbers were concerning, but they may be down to increased reporting and better recording practice.

5,515
recorded sexual offences against children in the South West last year
The NSPCC says it is 'everyone's responsibility' to protect children. Credit: ITV News

Every seven minutes a sexual offence against a child is recorded, which is an increase in recorded offences. For the South West it means that in the last year over 5,500 sexual offences against children were recorded, which again is a quite worrying statistic.

– Bartosz Zaniewski, NSPCC South West
Bartosz Zaniewski from NSPCC South West. Credit: ITV News

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.”

– Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO
The data was gathered through Freedom of Information requests to police forces. Credit: ITV News

Number of reported sex offences against U18s

Avon and Somerset Police

  • 2014/15: 1,118
  • 2015/16: 1,040
  • 2016/17: 1,483
  • 2017/18: 1,371
  • 2018/19: 1,264

Devon and Cornwall Police

  • 14/15: 1,358
  • 15/16: 1,498
  • 16/17: 1,885
  • 17/18: 2,367
  • 18/19: 2,463

Dorset Police

  • 14/15: 332
  • 15/16: 422
  • 16/17: 354
  • 17/18: 628
  • 18/19: 768

Gloucestershire Constabulary

  • 14/15: 335
  • 15/16: 381
  • 16/17: 504
  • 17/18: 489
  • 18/19: 525

Wiltshire Police

  • 14/15: 698
  • 15/16: 556
  • 16/17: 570
  • 17/18: 536
  • 18/19: 495

If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999, or call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

You can also use the NSPCC's online reporting form or e-mail help@nspcc.org.uk