Child sex offence recorded on average every 8 minutes in UK

Child sex offences recorded by police rose to a record 64,667 last year

Boy sat on floor and looking out of windowThe number of child sex offences recorded in the UK has risen by 15% according to new figures we obtained from the police 1.

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

Of the 64,667 recorded child sexual offences:

  • 13,876 were against children aged 10 or under
  • 2,788 were against children aged 4 or under
  • 193 were against babies under the age of 1.

1 in 10 offences were flagged as having an online element – a 59% increase on the previous year.

"I was playing an online game when someone I didn't know started sending me rude messages saying they wanted to have sex with me. The things they said were horrible and disgusting and made me feel scared."

"My dad's been touching me in private places. He does it when I visit his house at the weekend. I've told him to stop but he doesn't, I just want to make him stop."

"My mum's boyfriend used to be really nice to me, but now he makes me play games with him that make me feel sad. He tells me it's a secret game and makes me promise that I won't tell anyone. In the games he has sex with me."

Reasons for the rise

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

  • police forces improving recording methods
  • children and young people feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases
  • online groomers becoming a significant problem as perpetrators are able to reach hundreds of children

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

What we're calling for

We're calling on government to ensure training and support is available to frontline police officers to help raise awareness of safeguarding procedures and tackle child sex offences, especially online.

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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 frontline."

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Our services for children and families

Hear and now

Helping children who may have been sexually abused.

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Letting the Future In

Helping children who have been sexually abused.

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Protecting young people from sexual exploitation.

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Helping mums protect their children from sexual abuse.

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Overcoming harmful sexual behaviour.

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Treating young high risk harmful sexual behaviour.

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Keeping children safe from abuse

Signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse and neglect

The signs of child abuse aren't always obvious, and a child might not tell anyone what's happening to them. Sometimes children don't understand that what's happening is abuse. 
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What organisations and groups that work with or come into contact with children should do to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.
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Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know - a family member, friend or professional. 
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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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Just like in real life, kids need your help to stay safe online. Our advice will help you keep your child safe on social networks, apps and games.
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This case draws on real examples from NSPCC services, but does not describe a specific case. Photographs have been posed by models.


  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-18, an age breakdown and whether they had a cyber-flag between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017.

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

    Some of these figures may include non-recent child sex offences.

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