30% spike in sexual offences against children in Lincolnshire

Over 1,000 sexual offences against children were recorded by Lincolnshire Police during 2018/19, representing a 30% rise compared to the previous year.

The NSPCC sent Freedom of Information requests to 43 police forces across England and Wales, asking them for the number of recorded sexual offences against children under 18.

The charity also asked for an age breakdown and whether they had a cyberflag (a way of recording online crime) between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2019. All forces provided data except for Cheshire, and some of the figures may include non-recent child sex offences.

Nationally, 76,204 crimes against children were recorded in the last 12 months – an average of one every seven minutes and a rise of over 60% since 2014/15. This included rape, grooming and sexual assault as recorded sexual offences against children in the UK reached an all-time high.

Analysis of the data also revealed that, where age of victim was provided, 16,773 offences were recorded nationally against children aged 10 and under, with 341 of the offences against babies under the age of one.

In Lincolnshire, police recorded 1,081 sexual offences against children during 2018/19. This was a 30% rise compared to the 833 recorded in 2017/18.

Lincolnshire Police said additional resources were put into investigations covering vulnerable children from January 2019.

Photo: NSPCC

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Taylor, Head of Crime at Lincolnshire Police, said: “We focus on the victims behind these figures by providing a specialised approach to our investigation so we can bring offenders to justice and safeguard children involved and prevent further harm.

“Following a crime review across the force, from January 2019 we have put additional resources into investigations covering vulnerable children and we believe this has helped with confidence in reporting.

“We are now, more than ever, in a position to provide a specialised approach and work together with other safeguarding agencies. We continue to seek out national best practice and to encourage reporting to us or our partner agencies.”

Overstretched services appear to be failing to keep pace with demand nationally, and the NSPCC is calling for a radical reshaping of how this support is delivered across the country.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “Record numbers of child sexual offences means we are facing a nationwide crisis in the help available for tens of thousands of children.

“These children are bravely disclosing what happened to them but in too many cases there is not enough timely, joined up and child-friendly support. Instead they are shunted from overstretched service to service.

“We need a radical rethink in the way we help these young people, otherwise they could struggle for the rest of their lives with long term, deep seated trauma.”

The charity is calling for the provision of specialised services around the country, with an emphasis on early joined up support from police, local NHS services, children’s services and advocacy for children who have experienced sexual abuse, offered in child-friendly spaces.