Average of two child sex offences recorded by Herts police every day
An average of two sex offences targeting children and young people are recorded in Hertfordshire every day, according to new police figures.
Herts police data obtained by children’s charity the NSPCC shows that the number of child sex offences recorded by the force in 2016/17 rose to 771 – up by 16 per cent from the prevous year.
A total of 104 crimes were recorded in Hertfordshire against children aged 10 and under, with 16 of these crimes targeting children aged four or younger.
And three offences recorded in the county were against babies aged no older than one.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “This dramatic rise is extremely concerning and shows just how extensive child sexual abuse is.
“These abhorrent crimes can shatter a child’s life, leaving them to feel humiliated, depressed, or even suicidal. That is why it is crucial every single child who has endured abuse and needs support must get timely, thorough help so they can learn to rebuild their lives.
“These new figures suggest the police are making real progress in how they investigate sex offences against children.
“To help them tackle the issue going forward, we must ensure the police are equipped to work with other agencies and provide ongoing support and training to officers on the front line.”
In neighbouring Bedfordshire, there were 400 sex crimes recorded in 2016/17 – a drop from 514 the previous year – though a higher proportion targeted younger children. There were 138 sex crimes recorded by the Bedfordshire force in which the victims were aged 10 and under, and 37 in which the victim was aged four or younger.
Across the UK, the number of child sex offences recorded was a record 64,667 last year, up 15 per cent on the previous year, with an crime recorded every eight minutes on average.
One in 10 of these offences were flagged as having an online element, a rise of 59 per cent on the preious year.
The NSPCC emphasises that the true number of sex offences against children is unknown, as victims may not come forward out of fear or embarrassment, or perhaps not even realise they have been abused.
The charity’s Speak out, Stay safe programme, which visits primary schools across the UK, reached more than 37,600 children in Hertfordshire last year.