About one in five sex abuse allegations are made more than a year after the assaults took place, according to new figures released by Suffolk police.

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On average the county’s force gets around 500 reports of serious sexual assaults each year and about 20pc date back more than 12 months.

Between April 1 and October 31 2012, the time period for which the latest figures are available, a total of 18.4pc of sexual abuse allegations occurred more than a year earlier than the complaint was made.

The figure for 2011/12 was 19.2pc and in 2010/11 it was 20.6pc.

Det Supt Alan Caton, head of public protection for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We understand the trauma these type of offences have on people, including the impact on children and the impact it has when they have grown into adulthood.

“If anyone who is harbouring that sort of secret feels they want to be heard, we want them to come forward.

“We will believe them, and we will investigate. We want people to have the confidence to report these offences.

“My fear is those people who had been grooming or abusing children years ago could still be grooming or abusing children today.”

To report a sexual assault contact Suffolk police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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