More investment needed to tackle child sex crimes

04 August 2016

Victims of child abuse rarely come forward

More investment is needed for child abuse investigations and support for victims as new crime figures show 7% of adults experienced some form of sexual assault during their childhood.

Richie Jones, abuse spokesman for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “While great strides have been made over the past decade, operations like Yewtree have demonstrated that child sexual exploitation was historically under-reported. New cases are coming forward all the time and it is only right that a spotlight is being shone on this area.”

He was speaking as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released findings from their Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending March 2016, which for the first time included questions about child abuse during their childhoods.

Among the adults aged 16-59 who were polled, only 7% of child rape victims reported the crimes to police at the time. Also, 38% did not think anyone would believe them, and 19% did not believe anyone would do anything about it.

Mr Jones said: “The mechanisms for reporting such crimes and access to support services has greatly improved over the years, along with public attitudes to sexual abuse. Police officers are doing a fantastic job in this arena and extra investment would enable them to build on what is already being done. But we need to ensure that the public has the confidence to report not only historic sex crimes but also those that are happening right now.

“There needs to be proper investment and a raising of awareness so that victims of these horrible crimes know where they can go and the knowledge that their complaints will be treated seriously and offenders dealt with.

“And that should extend not just to victims but also to those who suspect that some form of abuse is taking place. So a school teacher who is worried about a pupil, for example, knows where they can report their suspicions, anonymously if needs be, whether that be to the police, Crimestoppers or some other agency.”