Child abuse offence recorded every 7 minutes in UK

Recorded sexual offences against children have reached an all-time high

Young boy sat on top of bunk bedNew figures obtained by us found there were 76,204 recorded sexual offences against children in the UK in 2018/19 – a rise of over 60% since 2014/151.

Offences included rape, grooming and sexual assault. Where age of victim was provided:

  • 16,773 offences were recorded against children aged 10 and under
  • 341 of the offences against babies under the age of one2.

Children who suffered sexual abuse need extensive support but overstretched services are failing to keep pace with demand. We're calling for a radical reshaping of how support is delivered across the country.

What we're calling for

We're calling for a radical reshaping of how support is delivered across the country:

  • Provision of specialised services around the country.
  • Early joined up support from police, local NHS services, children's services and advocacy.
  • Child-friendly spaces for children who've experienced sexual abuse.

In 2018 the pioneering service The Lighthouse was launched in London. At The Lighthouse all medical, advocacy, social care, police and therapeutic services are available to children and their families in one place.

We're working with local NHS services from University College London Hospital and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trusts to deliver our Letting the Future In (LTFI) service, providing therapeutic support for children who've been sexually abused.

Peter WanlessPeter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said:
"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."

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  1. 1. We sent the 43 police forces across England and Wales an FOI asking them for the number of recorded sexual offences against children under-18s, an age breakdown, and whether they had a cyberflag between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2019.

    We formally requested the same information from police forces in Northern Ireland and Scotland. All forces provided data except for Cheshire.

    Some of these figures may include non-recent child sex offences. In 2018/19, there were 76,204 cases reported across the UK (65,172 in England; 3,671 in Wales; 5,325 in Scotland; and 2,036 in Northern Ireland).

    Higher recorded sex offences do not necessarily reflect high prevalence of sex offence crimes, but could be explained by better recording, greater awareness of what abuse is, and survivors feeling more confident in coming forward.

  2. 2. Not all police forces provided age breakdowns. Some provided ages of victims, other provided broad age ranges.