Child sex offence recorded on average every 10 minutes in UK

Child sex offences recorded by police rose to a record 55,507 last year

Hand writing on paper

The number of child sex offences recorded in the UK has risen by almost a fifth according to figures we obtained from the police1.

Police recorded crimes against children including rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation. 

These included:

  • 13,565 crimes against children aged 10 and under
  • 2,799 crimes against children yet to even attend primary school.

Reasons for the rise

A number of factors could have contributed to the rise, including:

  • police forces improving methods for recording offences
  • young people may feel more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases
  • online grooming is becoming a major problem for perpetrators reaching multiple children.

The exact number of sex offences committed in the UK remains unknown. Children may not have come forward because they're frightened, ashamed, or don't realise they've been abused.

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Delivered by specially trained staff and volunteers, our Speak out Stay safe assemblies and workshops give children the knowledge and understanding they need to stay safe from abuse.

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More must be done to protect children

To address the increasing number of recorded child sex offences, we're calling for:

  • specialist training for police investigating online child abuse
  • investment in early intervention services to help children recover
  • effective rehabilitation for child sex offenders to prevent them from hurting more children.

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Peter Wanless, CEONSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless said:
"This steep rise lays bare just how extensive this appalling crime against children has become, claiming multiple victims every hour, some of whom are yet to say their first word.

"Sexual abuse can shatter a child's life and leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or even suicidal. Now, more than ever, victims need help as soon as possible to help them recover from their ordeals and go on to lead full and happy lives.

"Government must commit funds to early intervention that better help these children who through no fault of their own are enduring so much pain."

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  1. The NSPCC sent the 43 police forces across England and Wales an FOI asking for the number of reported sexual offences against under-18s, an age breakdown, and whether they had a cyber-flag.

    The NSPCC formally requested the same information from Northern Ireland and Scotland police forces.