The number of child sex offences reported to Lincolnshire Police rocketed to almost 600 last year, a rise of 40% on the previous 12 months.
Figures obtained by the NSPCC from Lincolnshire Police show that 598 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the county in 2014/15, compared with 423 the year before.
Of the offences recorded in Lincolnshire, four crimes were against one-year-olds, five concerned two-year-olds and eight three-year-olds.
Some 80% of the offences recorded involved female victims, with a proportion of reports relating to historic offences.
There were 105 reports of rape of a girl under the age of 13 and 28 instances of voyeurism reported in the county.
Country-wide, the findings equalled five child sex offences being reported every hour with 45,456 reports recorded last year.
Some 41,457 of those recorded in England and Wales included rape, grooming and sexual assault.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO said: “This dramatic rise is deeply worrying and shows just how extensive this appalling crime has become, claiming many victims every day, every hour.
“Sexual abuse can shatter a child’s mental health. It can leave them anxious, depressed and 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 how to handle disturbing emotions and behaviours and rebuild their lives.”
Lincolnshire Police Detective Superintendent Nikki Mayo said: “We attribute much of the increase in reported offences to victims bravely now feeling able to come forward and report historic sex offences against them as children, often decades earlier.
“It is also more widely known that we and our partners are able to offer much more support for victims than in earlier years.
“I feel that victims now come forward more confident that we will believe what we say and that they will achieve some justice and some closure regarding events that have sometimes haunted them for many years. The same feelings apply to children who have suffered in more recent times.
“We also recognise that the exploitation opportunities provided by the internet in respect of on-line grooming is an emerging issue.
“I would encourage anyone who has any information about a child being abused or who they fear might be at risk to call us on ‘999’ if the abuse is imminent or happening there and then.
“In less urgent circumstances they should call the 101 non-emergency number. Alternatively they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”
One section of the figures showed that five sexual reports were received concerning children under the age of one.
This has been dismissed by Lincolnshire Police, who state that the data they provided concerning children under one was incorrect.
Detective Superintendent Nikki Mayo added: “The age of some of the children provided in the figures is of particular concern especially where the figures suggest that five babies under one year were assaulted.
“We have looked into each of those five offences and discovered that the data we provided to the NSPCC in that age category was incorrect.
“When working through the Freedom of Information request for data and interrogating our systems it seems our IT systems have provided us with inaccurate basic information.
“We have since closely examined each of the five cases mentioned. Whilst they all still involve offences against children, it transpires that each of the victims was much older than the information indicated and were committed against substantially older children and not babies.”