Monday, 28 Sep 2020

There were 450 sex attacks on babies last year

Nearly 450 sex crimes were committed against babies before their first birthday in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Children’s Charity, the NSPCC, is calling for urgent action amid fears that sexual abuse within the family has increased significantly during lockdown. The data also revealed that girls were four times more likely to be victims than boys.

Last year there were 73,518 offences against children, including rape, grooming and sexual assaults – a significant increase from 2014/15 when there were 46,738 cases. However, the figure is expected to be higher as Greater Manchester Police did not provide data.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, 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.’

Childline said that the number of calls they received for sexual abuse within the family trebled since coronavirus restrictions were put in place towards the end of March.

One 17-year-old girl said: ‘It started during lockdown. I don’t want to live here anymore.

‘I feel I should tell social services about how abusive dad is, but I don’t feel ready to tell them about the sexual abuse part.’

The charity is urging the Government to publish its strategy to tackle child sexual abuse announced by then home secretary Sajid Javid in June last year.

The charity is calling for departments, including the Home Office, Department of Education and Ministry of Justice to join up efforts to prevent abuse.

Mr Wanless added: ‘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.’

Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: ‘These are truly sickening figures, which is why the government has made it a priority to lead the global effort to tackle this crime, safeguard victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

‘We have hosted the Hidden Harms summit, collaborated with Five Eyes partners and convened a global conference to drive the response as well as invested in law enforcement and boosted funds to charities, including the NSPCC which received £1.6 million towards its helpline.

‘It is right that we prioritised children at an immediate risk during the pandemic and are now working towards publishing our first of its kind national strategy on tackling all forms of child sexual abuse by the end of this year.’

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