17 sex offences recorded against children aged 2 and under in Derbyshire

Eight per cent of all offences were flagged as having an online element, the NSPCC said.
Eight per cent of all offences were flagged as having an online element, the NSPCC said.

Police in Derbyshire recorded 17 sex offences against children aged two and under last year.

The shocking figures were revealed by the NSPCC after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Nationally, the number of child sex offences recorded by police in the UK rose to a record 64,667 last year, up 15 per cent from the previous year with one offence recorded on average every eight minutes.

In Derbyshire, the number of offences increased to 1,066 last year, up from 983 recorded the previous year.

Seventeen of those offences were against children aged two and under and eight per cent of all offences were flagged as having an online element.

The total number of sex offences committed against children is unknown, as more children may not have come forward out of fear or embarrassment, or may not even realise they have been abused.

The NSPCC believes the dramatic increase across the UK could be down to a number of factors:

* Police forces improving recording methods.

* Survivors feeling more confident in disclosing abuse following high-profile cases.

* Online groomers becoming a significant problem with predators able to reach hundreds of children.

The NSPCC is now calling for government to direct more resources to ensure high-quality training and support is available to frontline police officers to help raise awareness of safeguarding procedures and tackle child sex offences, especially online.

But it is also vital that children feel able to come forward to disclose abuse.

The NSPCC’s Speak Out. Stay Safe (SOSS) programme visits primary schools across the UK to help children learn the signs of abuse in an age appropriate way, and what to do if they have been victims of such abuse. In 2016/17, SOSS staff and volunteers visited 192 Derbyshire schools and spoke to 33,694 children.

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 on-going support and training to officers on the front line.”