According to figures obtained by the NSPCC, every day 64 children are sexually abused in England and Wales. Figures for recorded sex crimes against children were obtained via a successful NSPCC freedom of information request to all 43 police forces in England and Wales. The figures show that in 2009-10 more than 23,000 sexual offences were recorded by the police. These included rape, incest and gross indecency. This was an 8% on offences recorded in 2008-9.
The research found that a quarter of abusers were aged under 18. One in four victims was aged 5 to 11. More than half of the victims were aged between 12 and 15 and more than 1,000 were aged 4 or younger. 86% of attacks took place against females. The police force reporting the largest number of crimes was London's Metropolitan (3,672) followed by West Midlands (1,531) and West Yorkshire (1,205).
Jon Brown who works on child sex abuse cases at the NSPCC, said the increase was a "real concern". He stated "Thousands of people come forward every year to report sex crimes against children but many victims are too young to ask for help. Others are too scared to tell anyone about their suffering until years later. More than 2,000 suspects in these cases were under 18. It's clear we need more services that address the harmful sexual behaviour of young people, as well as adult offenders."
Assistant Police Constable Peter Davies from The Association of Chief Police Officers said "Understanding the crime though is central to success. We are starting to bring it out of the dark places where victims suffer in silence for fear of reporting while recent infiltration of intricate global paedophile networks is further testament to the work we have collectively done to understand how offenders think and operate."
The child sex offenders disclosure scheme dubbed "Sarah's Law" was rolled out across police forces earlier this year. It allows parents to check whether someone in contact with their child is a convicted sex offender. According to the Home Office the scheme was a "major step forward in our ability to protect children from sex offenders".