NSPCC finds 1,210 child sex crimes reported to all four police forces in Wales last year

The NSPCC is calling for action to drastically reduce the number of sexual assaults on children after latest figures revealed there were more than 400 offences a week reported to police in England and Wales every week last year.

Of the 1,210 total victims in Wales last year, more than a fifth – 278 – hadn’t reached secondary school age and more than 80  were five and under. However the majority of offences, 932 were reported against 11-17-year-olds.

The figures from all four police forces in Wales cover various sex crimes including rape, incest and abuse of children through prostitution and pornography and reveal that more than  one in three of all sex crimes* are committed against children. At 1,009, the number of girl victims was five times higher than boys – 185. In 16 cases the gender was unknown.

The statistics also reveal that 50 of the under-18s had already been victims of sex offences but only two of the forces were able to supply this information.

For the last four years the NSPCC has obtained figures through a Freedom of Information request from all 43 police forces in England and Wales and during this period there has been no significant decrease in reported offences. The number of convictions has risen by around one-quarter from 1,747 in 2007 to 2,135 in 2010. But this still means fewer than one in ten offences result in someone being sentenced.

The NSPCC, which runs four sexual abuse programmes in Wales, is now calling for:

  • Children to be taught how to protect themselves from sexual abuse.
  • The public to have better information about the risks and how to prevent it.
  • Treatment programmes to be available for all young people and adults who present a sexual risk to children.
  • Therapeutic services to be available for all child victims of sex offences.

Des Mannion, NSPCC national head of service for Wales, said: “A concentrated effort has to be made if we are to start reducing this distressing level of offences, many of which are committed on extremely young and helpless children.

“The Welsh Government has to start treating the situation as seriously as they would if faced with an outbreak of chronic disease.

“We also need a clearer picture of what is happening between an offence being reported and someone appearing in court. The police are doing their best to bring prosecutions but we need to understand why there is such a huge disparity between the two figures. The fact there are repeat offences against some of the children also shows not all are just one-off incidents.

“The NSPCC is doing what it can by using information like this from the police to tailor our treatment programmes- different approaches are needed depending on the age of the child. We have also set up a Schools Service which aims to work with 117,600 seven to 11 year olds over the next four years to help them recognise and protect themselves from abuse.”

But we can’t tackle this problem by ourselves. It requires a major effort from government and the public to give children the protection they need and to provide more therapeutic programmes so the young victims of abuse can start to rebuild their lives.”