Almost 87,000 sexual offences against children were recorded by police in the past year

We're launching a campaign with the Home Office to tackle child sexual abuse and raise awareness for our Helpline.

  • New data reveals almost 87,000 sexual offences against children were recorded by police in 2022/23.
  • Types of offences included rape, sexual assault, grooming and sexual exploitation.
  • We are encouraging adults to contact our Helpline if they are concerned a child could be at risk.

Our new research reveals that child sexual offences recorded by police over the past year remain close to record levels.

We submitted a Freedom of Information request which showed a total of 86,962 sexual offences against children were recorded by police across the UK in 22/23. This remains one of the highest on record since we started this annual research 16 years ago.

Types of offences recorded included rape, sexual assault, grooming and sexual exploitation. The highest number of crimes where age was known were against 11-15 year olds.

Helpline x Home Office - Better Safe campaign

This is data is why we are launching a new campaign in partnership with the Home Office to tackle child sexual abuse.

Together, we are encouraging adults to contact our Helpline if they are concerned a child could be at risk. The partnership also encourages people to report on instances where there are concerns that a child might be experiencing sexual abuse.

The Home Office is providing funding for our Helpline to increase capacity as well as to raise awareness of our service to the public and professionals.

We have created two films promoting the new campaign. These show how adults can use the Helpline to share any concerns they may have about a child’s safety or welfare. One of these films is tailored to professionals, and the other reaches out to the general public.

Watch the video

The NSPCC Helpline

Our Helpline is a free advice line for any adult, including professionals, who has any concerns about a child.

Our dedicated child protection specialists can give advice on a wide range of issues affecting children, as well as when child abuse is suspected. We also operate a dedicated Whistleblowing Helpline, which can be contacted for any concerns around child protection within the workplace, or other professional organisations.

We are encouraging any adult to use the Helpline to express any concerns they might have regarding a child, even if they’re not certain. By doing this, everyone can play a part in helping keep children safe from sexual abuse.

You can contact the our Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing [email protected] or completing our report abuse online form.

If you think a child is in immediate danger
Don't delay – call the police on 999.

One parent told the Helpline*:

“I was in a relationship but this recently ended. My daughter said that she was glad my ex was not around anymore as they were “naughty”. When I asked my daughter why my ex was naughty, she disclosed that they had touched her inappropriately. It seems they had done this at least twice, and my daughter did not tell me because she thought she would get in trouble.”


For children, we also provide our Childline service, where children can receive information and advice on a wide range of topics, including sexual abuse, and access support and counselling.

Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 or message a counsellor on the 1-2-1 chat service.

The Childline phone service hears directly from children on the impact sexual abuse can have on their lives.

One boy aged 14 told Childline*:

“I’m still haunted by something that happened in my past. When I was 11, I was assaulted by an older boy at my school. I tried telling my head of year how this boy had touched me without my consent, but they said there was nothing they could do… I was too scared to tell anyone else after that as I worried about getting the same response.”

IICSA (the Independent Enquiry into Child Sexual Abuse)

This campaign and focus on our Helpline follows the report released in October 2022 by IICSA. Over 7 years, IICSA received evidence and testimonies from thousands of people who had experienced sexual abuse as a child, resulting in a detailed set of recommendations that address the prevalence of child sexual abuse.

This report found that child sexual abuse and exploitation had been, and remains, under-reported.

In the 12 months following the IICSA report, the Helpline was contacted the equivalent of once every hour with concerns from adults about children experiencing sexual abuse.

Kam Thandi, Helpline Director at the NSPCC, said:

“The high numbers of child sexual offences being reported by police forces across the UK are a warning to us all that more must be done to tackle this abuse.

“This new Helpline campaign, in partnership with the Home Office, will encourage the general public and professionals to reach out with concerns about child sexual abuse. All of us must play our part in protecting children.

“The Helpline deals with concerns about children, no matter how big or small, and we’re encouraging adults to contact us. What is shared could be life-changing for a child experiencing sexual abuse.”

*Snapshots are based on real Helpline and Childline service users but are not necessarily direct quotes. All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person involved.


The NSPCC sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces in the UK requesting the number of recorded sexual offences against children aged under 18, broken down by offence along with the age and gender of victims they recorded in 2022/23. Of the 44 police forces, 43 responded. Last year a total of 41 police forces responded.

There is a slight decrease in recorded offences in the year 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. In 2022/23 the NSPCC gathered data that recorded 86,962 offences, and in 2021/22 there were 87,808 recorded offences. The NSPCC can provide further FOI data on request. Please note, more police forces responded to this NSPCC FOI request this year compared to the year 2021/22.

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

Between April 2022 and March 2023 the NSPCC Helpline dealt with 39,822 child welfare contacts where the main concern was neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse/exploitation (contact and online), domestic abuse or emotional abuse.

Between October 2022 and September 2023, the NSPCC Helpline handled 8,803 child welfare contacts where the main concern was child sexual abuse and exploitation (contact and online). This is a 6% increase compared to October 2021 – September 2022 when the NSPCC Helpline handled 8,318 child welfare contacts where the main concern was child sexual abuse.