Child sexual offences jump 57% in 5 years

Childline counselling sessions about sexual abuse in the family triple during lockdown


New figures obtained by us reveal that police recorded more than 200 child sex offences, on average, every day last year1.

There were 73,518 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in the UK in 2019/20 – up 57% in the 5 years since 2014/152.

Where gender and age were recorded:

  • girls were 4 times as likely to be victims
  • there were more than 8,000 offences committed against 14-year-olds, making it the most common age group to report offences
  • there were 12,374 sex crimes recorded against children under 10
  • 449 offences were recorded against babies yet to reach their first birthday. 

The figures on child sexual abuse show the need for national leadership in response and we urge the Home Office to publish and implement its Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy3.

The strategy was announced by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid at our ‘How Safe are our Children’ conference in June last year. In May the Home Office said it “will shortly publish the first of its kind cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling this abhorrent crime”. The strategy has yet to be published.

"My dad touched me sexually when I was younger and now I have to be home all the time with him and I can’t deal with it. Just being in the house with him is so hard. I am constantly reminded of what he did."
A 15-year-old girl who contacted Childline

What we're calling for

We're calling for the needs of children and young people to be at the centre of how authorities respond to child sexual abuse.

  • We want the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to bring government departments together to join up efforts to prevent sexual abuse across society. 
  • It must respond to the needs of children and young people who have experienced abuse so they're able to access timely, specialist support that meets their needs and helps them recover.
  • This should include Child House initiatives where health, policing, social work, therapeutic and other services provide support to children under one roof.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said:
“The crisis of child sexual abuse is not going away and behind these figures are thousands of children and young people who have reported crimes that can have a devastating impact on their lives.

“Urgent action is needed to prevent abuse and to ensure children are supported to recover when they bravely speak out.  

“We need concerted leadership from governments across the UK to implement strategies on tackling child sexual abuse that put the experiences and needs of children at their heart and are effective in preventing abuse and helping young people recover.” 

Abuse can stop with a call to the NSPCC Helpline. Will you help us answer every call?


  1. 1. The NSPCC sent the 43 police forces across England and Wales an FOI asking them for the number of recorded sexual offences against children under-18s between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020. The NSPCC formally requested the same information from police forces in Northern Ireland and Scotland. All forces provided data except for Greater Manchester Police. Data was also received from forces in Jersey and Guernsey for the first time.

  2. 2. In 2014/15 there were 46,738 recorded child sexual offences in the UK.

  3. 3. The previous Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced the Government’s intention to publish a Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy at the NSPCC’s How Safe Conference on June 25th