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Norfolk’s police chief ‘worried’ about extent of child sex abuse

PUBLISHED: 06:26 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:19 10 August 2020

Someone on a laptop. PIC: Sonya Duncan

Someone on a laptop. PIC: Sonya Duncan

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Norfolk’s chief constable admitted he is “really worried” that huge increases in child sex offences will be exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve AdamsChief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Police forces in the east of England recorded more than 23 child sexual offences, on average, every day last year, new figures from the NSPCC reveal.

There were 8,579 recorded offences including rape, online grooming and sexual assault against children in 2019/20 – up 60pc in the five years from 2014/15.

In Norfolk the number of recorded offences went up by more than 600 cases from 774 in 2014/15 to 1,390 between April 2019 and the end of March 2020.

But with the latest figures only taking into account the very start of the coronavirus lockdown, which was imposed at the end of March, Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable and national policing lead for child protection, said: “I’m really worried as a result of lockdown that more child abuse will be identified and recorded and will put even more pressure into the system. What I fear is that when children return to school we will probably identify even more.”

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Mr Bailey said that nationally the National Crime Agency (NCA) had recently reviewed the scale of threat to between 66,000 and 80,000 individuals that have a sexual interest in children to more than 300,000 people which he admitted was a “huge leap”.

He acknowledged that more abuse was potentially taking place because of the “ease of access” that the internet affords people who have a sexual interest in children and who might have become desensitised to pornography.

But Mr Bailey said while the scale of the threat was increasing there was also more awareness of the dangers and “more and more people having the confidence to come forward and report it”.

Figures released today, Monday, August 10, by the NSPCC reveal that in the UK there were 73,518 such offences recorded in 2019/20 – up 57pc in the five years since 2014/15 which is the equivalent to nearly 200 offences every day last year.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless 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.”

Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline for advice on 0808 800 5000. Adult victims of non-recent sexual abuse can also get in touch for support. Children or young people can log onto www.childline.org.uk or call 0800 1111.


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